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farming

TENDING to the CROPS Small producers find a growing niche STORY BY PETE HICKS • PHOTOS BY FIONA HICKS

‘T

his was Carson’s first food – pears from my garden,” says Pat VanVolkinburg, 57, the owner of Bountiful Organics, along with husband Paul. Her eyes were a little misty as she remembered the boy, a young neighbor she’s close to, and that experience. The couple bought a 5-acre piece of property near Shepherd Lake in Sagle in 1984, where she had always had a small garden. After an injury at her job and multiple surgeries, Pat VanVolkinburg found that gardening was not only good for her body but also for her mind and spirit. Her small garden grew to a farm. She took classes and taught courses in the local Master Gardener community. Now, after more than 30 years of working her land and 20 years providing Bountiful Organics produce at the Sandpoint Farmers Market, she loves to share her love of the land. “Providing certified organic produce and seed to my community is an honor that I cherish. The local support is vital to the future of my farm,” she said. “Sure, there are days when every inch of my body is begging me to stop, but then there are the days that make all that a distant memory.” VanVolkinburg goes on to tell a couple of stories that have encouraged her to continue. She tells of a neighbor’s son who helped her dig out carrots and his excitement of playing in the soil with his bare hands. She shows me a picture of baby Carson’s face covered in pureed pears. She added, “We must all think more like this. Buying from our neighbors and the neighbors of friends. Eggs, milk, cheese, meat, produce, fruit and seed, are all things we can buy local. How very blessed we are to have these things available to us.” This summer, VanVolkinburg starts a new chapter for Bountiful Organics, a farm stand at her property, 517 Shepherd Lake Loop, to be open limited hours. I had the pleasure of working alongside VanVolkinburg and daughter Jenn when I first moved to Sandpoint. She would walk through the garden with me and tell stories of the different plants as if they were friends or family members. She remembers hard seasons where there was too much rain, or not enough, but she doesn’t remember them with bitterness. She remembers the lessons and how they prepared her for the next time. The amount of knowledge farmers hold about their plants and soil is staggering. By the end of my first season of pulling weeds, trimming tomato plants and pulling garlic, my initial infatuation with Kelsey Racicot and Alan Wright turned this open field into Rugged Roots Farm

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SANDPOINT MAGAZINE

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SUMMER 2016

5/11/16 9:01 AM

Sandpoint Magazine Summer 2016  

In this Issue: Dog Town, Idaho How people and their dogs have created Sandpoint’s copious canine culture Plus ‘Peaking’ Our Interest - Peak...

Sandpoint Magazine Summer 2016  

In this Issue: Dog Town, Idaho How people and their dogs have created Sandpoint’s copious canine culture Plus ‘Peaking’ Our Interest - Peak...