Edible Pedal and Pig Roast?
Let me explain…
A couple weeks ago, my daughter and I packed our bikes into the car and headed to Chimacum, Washington, for WSU’s 11th annual Jefferson County Farm tour and pig roast. The whole event was co-sponsored this year by Edible Seattle and the Chimacum Corner Farmstand.
Having a predilection for vegetable oriented meals, neither of us had ever been to a pig roast. But I had just finished Michael Pollan’s newest book, Cooked, which has a whole section on southern pit roasting (whole hog), so my curiosity was piqued and we were both excited for an adventure.
The pig in question was actually three heritage breed pigs: Berkshires, from Moonlight Farm, just up the road. One of the oldest known breeds, it’s prized for flavorful meat – definitely not “the other white meat”.
Memories of Chimacum
I’ve been driving through Chimacum for over 40 years. Driving through… That means we/I didn’t stop.
This all began in 1968, when my parents bought a piece of land on Dabob Bay, which, as far as the kids in my family were concerned, was in the middle of nowhere. We spent a lot of time there, and due to its remoteness, we had to pack everything we needed for a stay of any duration into our car when we left Seattle. Poulsbo was the last bit of civilization on our route.
In those days, once we got there, we didn’t venture very far. There wasn’t anywhere to go. But as we got older and “cooler”, and smoking smokewood replaced building forts out of driftwood on the beach, my parents must have decided that alternative sources of stimulation were needed, so we ventured West.
Near Sequim, my mom found one farm that would sell us goat’s milk for my allergic brother and another that had the best U-pick raspberries ever. Once we picked 40 pounds, which created a whole new activity – making a lot of jam. Dungeness Spit was a favorite, due to the fact that there almost always seems to be a hole in the clouds there when its raining and the rest of the Olympic Peninsula is blanketed in heavy gray clouds. This happens a lot, and as young teenagers, we lamented incessantly. Port Townsend lured us with a laundromat and the promise of art supplies and beads for rainy day craft projects. But the A & W Root Beer drive-in for burgers on the way out of town was the real reward. Further afield were hiking trails out to the wild ocean beaches, but I digress… Still, we never stopped in Chimacum…
A Washington Pig Roast
On this trip, we drove from the Bainbridge Island ferry dock straight to Chimacum – a first. It was a gorgeous early fall afternoon, warm and sunny with the promise of a beautiful sunset over the Olympics. We parked in a field between farm trucks and Subarus loaded with bicycles.
This was definitely not Southern barbecue. Distinctly Northwest in style, there were piles of roasted vegetables, carrots, zucchini, beets, summer squash and potatoes from local farms, all grilled over the fire which had previously cooked the pigs. No fancy sauces, no spicy rubs, just flavorful, simply seasoned local ingredients… and by local, I mean within about 5 miles.
It would be hard to say where all the people came from. I know they sold out of the original tickets – 400. A handful more were sold on site when they knew there’d be enough food. If I had to guess, I’d say the demographic was local farmers, artists from Port Townsend, young families committed to rural living, Seattle bicyclists, and all ages of folks “in town” for the farm tour and a weekend on the peninsula.
It was a celebration of local food, but also of community; a community growing around a local food economy which supports and celebrates its farmers and the products of their labor.
As the light faded, the food disappeared, and the musicians put their instruments away, parents corralled young children and packed them off before bedtime. Campers left to set up tents, and my daughter and I drove the short distance to Dabob bay to sleep under the stars on our deck one last time this summer. We said good bye to Chimicum til morning, when we were back to start our ride. But thats the next story…
WSU on the Olympic Peninsula?
The proceeds from the pig roast benefit the WSU extension’s small farm and field intern program which provides education and mentorship for new and aspiring farmers as well as interns for farms in the area. For more information check out: Jefferson County WSU FIELD program.