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Country Life

History • A6 Gardening • A7 Fair photos • A8

A5 • • Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cloud Mountain sets Harvest Day Event will give visitors a look inside farm’s various projects By Brent Lindquist

EVERSON — Curious to see a model fruit and vegetable growing operation?   Cloud Mountain Farm Center, 6906 Goodwin Rd., hosts its Summer Harvest Day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18, as late summer brings the pinnacle of harvesting.   “We’re doing an open house kind of thing, and we’re going to have some of our staff and some of our interns at different places on the farm talking about different projects,” Cloud Mountain coowner Cheryl Thornton said. “We’re going to have samples of some of the vegetable varieties that we’re growing and maybe some fruit depending on what’s still ripe. The plan is to give people an idea of the different projects we’re doing.”

   The day will feature a number of different stations to give visitors an idea of what’s happening at the nonprofit community farm.    “One (station) is certainly going to be talking about our intern program,” Thornton said, “just really giving everybody an idea of why they’re here and what the program’s about.”    Another station will touch on crop development activities at Cloud Mountain, including variety testing on grapes, peaches, strawberries, cherries and leafy greens.    “Then we’ll have another one on just our vegetable production and what that looks like,” Thornton said.   Visitors will have the opportunity to taste Cloud Mountain’s tomato, pepper and melon varieties. Someone will also be on hand to talk about the farm’s fruit production, including orchards and tree fruits.    A final station will inform visitors about the farm’s nursery production.    “I think that it’ll give a pretty wide view of what we’re doing here,” Thornton said.

Animals take the fair stage this week

Ava Crabtree, 5, of Lynden, gets acquainted with a 3-day-old calf in the Dairy Maternity Area of the 2013 Northwest Washington Fair on Monday. No baby calves had yet been born at the fair, so this Holstein-Jersey cross was brought in from Eaglemill Farm as “the cutest one with special markings for the fair,” said owner Rod DeJong. On a board nearby, people could suggest names for the baby girl. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

Oscar Sheets, father of county berry industry, came 100 years ago Many interrelated Missourians followed and grew strawberries By Calvin Bratt

  Editor’s Note: This story ran originally in the July 24 “Pioneering Families” section of the Ferndale Record preceding Old Settlers Days.    LYNDEN — In January 1913 Oscar Sheets, age 26, traveled to Lynden by train and boat from Van Buren, Missouri, to check out 10 acres that he had been offered in a trade. He saw the property covered in snow, but decided

it was good anyway. He sent for his wife Maud and 3-yearold son Manuel to come too.    The place was Bedlington’s Corner, today the corner of Berthusen and Loomis Trail roads. Oscar at first worked in the Peters’ sawmill on Bertrand Creek, clearing land to be suitable for agriculture. In that first summer the Sheets family tasted of the blackberries that grew wild in their new Whatcom County home — Oscar and Maud picked and canned 101 quarts of the berries, according to son Bert and Peggy Sheets as told in their family story in the “Treasures From the Past” book.    In 1915 Oscar bought 40 acres west of Bertrand and in 1920 built the Loomis Trail Road house that was to be in the family for the next 60 years. They kept milk cows and 2,000 chickens, as did nearly everyone on rural acreage at the

Leonard, Winfred and Jake Maberry pause from their strawberry hoeing in an early photo. time. But early on Oscar also began to grow gooseberries, rhubarb and strawberries that he peddled to Lynden and Bellingham merchants and to the Kale Cannery in Everson.    Consider it the birth of

the Whatcom County berry industry.    Oscar Sheets was the first of what was to be a migration of Carter County, Missouri residents, many of them related to each other, to the Lyn-

den area to became involved in berry growing.    Jake Maberry, who arrived with his family as a 13-year-old in 1943, has a ready answer as to what motivated that movement from hot and humid Missouri.    “It was like anything else, I think. They were trying to better themselves,” said Maberry, who is now known for decades of producing the “berry best” in his fields as well as championship basketball teams at Lynden High School.    Jake, after whom the LHS gymnasium is named, is now in Lynden Manor assisted-living at age 83.    His father, Leonard, had operated an automotive service station in Van Buren. His mother, Blanche, was a halfsister to Oscar Sheets. Coming to the better climate of Whatcom County, which they had once visited before moving,

the Maberrys did dairy and poultry farming for a while, but it did not suit them. They followed the lead of Sheets — who by now had many acres in strawberries — in a big way, planting 80 acres of their own on new acreage with oldest son Winfred.    Other interrelated families came from Missouri too: Wakefield, Bales, Chilton, Cowen and Cowin, Coleman, Holt, Rhea and Clark.   “One way or another, we were all related,” states Dwight Chilton, 79, who came with his family when he was a teen. His acreage on Birch Bay-Lynden Road is now operated by the Enfield family.   “Everybody planted strawberries,” Jake Maberry said. “There was no raspberry industry at all,” added his wife, Money Maberry.    This is how the Sheets See Oscar on A7

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A6 • Wednesday, August 14, 2013 •

Grindstone intended for Migrant pickers strike in Skagit Russian czar now home here Over 200 Sakuma Bros. workers want better pay, living conditions

Stones were commissioned before 1917 revolution

By Calvin Bratt

By Brent Lindquist

LYNDEN — The new grindstone at the Puget Sound Antique Tractor Club show grounds may look like just that, a grindstone, but this one carries a far more storied history than any ordinary sandstone wheel.    Six feet tall and eight inches thick, the “Grinder,” as it is now known at the grounds, was created circa 1916 when Czar Nicholas II of Russia commissioned four grinding wheels to sharpen his sabers. The wheels are believed to have been quarried south of Bellingham at the Chuckanut standstone/quarry.    The four stones never made it to Russia. The country crumbled under Nicholas’s rule, and he and his family were imprisoned following the February Revolution of 1917. The Bolsheviks executed Nicholas, his family, his doctor, his footman, a maidservant and the family cook in the spring of 1918.    “He was assassinated before they shipped them, but they were made,” tractor club president Larry McPhail said.   The grindstones were sent off to a warehouse in Seattle, and there they sat for a number of years.    Enter Fred Sundstrom, a Friday Harbor man with a passion for working on his 32-foot wooden sailboat, in early 1953. Sundstrom would collect scrap metal and travel to Seattle to melt it down for use in the boat’s keel. In the warehouse in which the metal was melted down, Sundstrom

spied the four grindstones. On a handshake deal, the manager agreed to give him the stones.    Sundstrom broke one of the stones in half and used the pieces for his home’s front and back steps. Two of the others were used in the entryway in another home. Sundstrom mounted the fourth stone in a portable unit with a wooden floor, hard rubber tires and a wooden roof. He attached a two-horsepower Stover gas engine to the stone and pulled it in local parades.    Sundstrom passed away in 2011, and his family chose to donate the grindstone to the tractor club. On July 9, Lee and Charmaine Hetterly, along with Bud and Sue Vaughan, Linda Sundstrom and Dan Sundstrom and their nephew, Doug Rhine. Jeff Zima of Faber Brothers Con-

struction operated a forklift and ATAC Northwest owner Alex Lira helped with the logistics of the relocation. Mick and Jeanie Van Dalen and their family covered ferry expenses.   “We had a gentlemen from Faber Brothers who had an extended boom, and without him we may not have gotten it loaded,” Lee Hetterly said.    The stone now sits at the logging show grounds, and like many of the pieces showcased there, the club intends to have it up and running as soon as possible.    “It runs with an engine,” Hetterly said. “We’ll have it running next year.”    The stone is in a remarkable state of preservation, a state McPhail attributes to the roof Sundstrom constructed over it.

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able.    Many of the piece-rate workers are originally from the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Some don’t speak Spanish or English, only indigenous languages, MR Zine reported. However, Sakuma, a large third-generation grower of berries in Skagit County, has seen some of the same workers return for its berry harvests for many years.    Workers formed a negotiation committee called Families United for Justice.    Carmen Juarez-Ventura, a veteran picker, said she wants to work for Sakuma, but “instead of raising our wage to make it fair, they keep lowering it.” Another picker, Aucencio Alvarez, said the pay is “brutally low” and he feels disillusioned. “We come from so far, from California, only to be treated this way.” Alvarez said his family is thinking of not returning next year after having worked for Sakuma Brothers Farm for seven years.    Sakuma Brothers Inc. did not respond to a request for comment.    The family berry growing operation, with more than 1,000 acres, goes back to 1939 in the Burlington area.    Whatcom County berry grower Darryl Ehlers said the Sakuma brothers are “the most considerate gentlemanly farmers that exist in the state. I know them personally and know they would never take advantage of their workers. If existing workers walk off their job and strike, they will suffer and so will Sakumas.”

a free course on worm composting hosted by Elsie Konzelman of Nature’s Footprint.    The event will be at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21.    Erin Meier, class coordinator, said most of the company’s community classes are held during the fall and spring, with some happening

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   BURLINGTON ­ — Over 200 migrant farm workers walked off their jobs picking blueberries for Sakuma Brothers Inc. in mid-July demanding higher pay and better working and living conditions.   Bellingham-based Community to Community Development, a farm worker and food justice organization, assisted the workers through a process of negotiations with the employer.    The workers returned to work around July 17 after six days striking, but walked off again July 22 over unmet demands.    Sakuma sought to get temporary harvest workers through the federal government-sponsored but more expensive H-2A visa program.    As of July 24, Sakuma reportedly told striking workers they must accept current conditions for work, or leave the farm.    The strike started shortly after the firing of farm worker Federico Lopez on July 10, as Lopez and co-workers believed he was targeted for bringing up grievances with his superiors, reported the MR Zine, an online version of the leftist Monthly Review.

   By July 13 Lopez was back in his job. Also, a crew boss that workers called “unbearable hostile” was removed. But those were the only changes made at Sakuma farm in response to the workers’ action.    A press release from Rosalinda Guillen of Community to Community cited these positions on issues:     • pay. Workers want to get $6 for picking a flat of blueberries rather than the $3.50 offered. At the low rate, pickers struggle to make the state minimum wage of $9.19 per hour.     • overtime. Pickers routinely work over 40 hours per week in harvest without extra compensation.     • pay stubs. Workers dislike new electronic scanners showing what they’ve picked; they want more easily readible paper tickets instead.     • worker intimidation. Illegal racial and ethnic harassment continues, Guillen said. There should be “no yelling or threats” or insults from supervisors.     • working/living conditions. Labor camps are said to be unclean and unsanitary.     • sickness. Workers should not be forced to work when sick or to provide professional documentation that they are sick.     • travel expenses. If fired, workers should be paid round-trip travel expenses for coming to Sakuma farm.     • H-2A. It is unfair that guest workers get paid $12 per hour.     • child care. It should be adequate and readily avail-


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Local district’s Dr. Embertson honored for conservation service    LEAVENWORTH — Nichole Embertson, resource coordinator for the Whatcom Conservation District, was recognized in June as the 2013 Employee of the Year by the Washington Association of District Employees.    Joe Heller, district chair, said in his nomination letter that Embertson shows a high level of professionalism and in recent years has taken on additional work and leadership responsibilities.    Dawn Bekenyi, of the state association, presented to Embertson, who holds a Ph.D., a beautiful steel fish wall sculpture, made by Steve Seymour, along with a plaque.   Whatcom Conservation District board members added this in their nomination form for Embertson: “Frankly, that someone with her credentials works for a conservation district is indicative of her dedication to conserva-

Oscar: The father of berries Continued from A5

tion. She is passionate about the environment and farmers. She knows that only by being the best stewards of the land can highly productive farming continue to coexist with its community.   “Demographics are changing. Farmers must be productive to survive economically and conservationists to persist socially. Nichole is an outspoken advocate for conservation and pragmatism. She delivers hard messages to tough audiences on both sides of the issue.”    She is a coordinator for the local Sustainable Livestock Production Program.    She was instrumental in

helping create and launch in September 2012 a monthly Whatcom dairy speaker series. Free to attendees, university and industry come to speak about production, management and other topics of interest.    By training and experience, she can advise producers on nutrient management plan implementation; livestock environmental management; nutrient and waste management issues; air and water quality issues; emissions quantification studies; effective best management practices; and air, water, and nutrient chemistry background.

July benchmark milk price slips By Lee Mielke

   The July Federal Order farmgate Class III milk price took a 64-cent dip.    The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the manufacturing-grade price at $17.38 per hundredweight (cwt.), down 64 cents from June, but still 70 cents above July 2012 and equating to about $1.55 per gallon.    That put the 2013 Class III average at $17.69, up from $16.01 at this time a year ago and $17.68 in 2011.   The Class III futures portend a turnaround in the August contract, which was trading on Aug. 2 at $17.91. September was at $18.52; October $18.52, November $17.75, and December $17.24.   The Class IV price is $18.90, up 2 cents from June and $4.45 above a year ago. Its 2013 average now stands at $18.27, up from $14.84 a year ago but down from $19.38 in

2011.    Export demand remains good, supported by assistance programs like Cooperatives Working Together.    Recent hot weather reduced cow comfort and pushed butterfat components seasonally lower in most areas of the country, according to Dairy Market News. With the recent downturn in butterfat components, some balancing plants indicate they have few cream loads available for clearing to the spot market. Based on cream availability, cream sales into ice cream and soft serve mix operations are active.    Updating things on the Farm Bill as Congress heads into its August recess: Chris Galen of the National Milk Producers Federation said on the Aug. 1 “DairyLine” program that “there’s been no visible progress in trying to bring leaders from the House and Senate to negotiate a compromise Farm Bill.”

family tells it in “Treasures”: “Little by little each family started their own strawberry acreage from Oscar’s plants. The berry industry became quite large, and growers with large acreages built camps for their pickers. Many bused Canadian Indians down to stay in the camps to pick strawberries and, later, raspberries. Mexicans also came.”    Thousands of local school children also earned their summer money working in the thousands of acres of strawberries in cultivation by the 1960s.    Jake and Money have their own unique story to tell of traumatic entry into the berry growing life. After attending and playing basketball at the College of Puget Sound, Jake got his first job teaching and coaching at Central Kitsap. He wanted to be back in Whatcom County, though. So, returning in 1955, he planted 15 acres of strawberries near the MainGuide Meridian intersection where City Bible Church is now located. That Nov. 11, all in a few hours, the temperature plummeted from 55 degrees to minus-5 degrees, as a Northeaster blew in from Canada. Their strawberry plants, and everyone else’s, were ruined.    Fortunately for Jake, he

   Galen said it’s up to dairy farmers, in the next four to five weeks, to let their elected officials know that “failure is not an option” to get a bill passed before the end of September, which is the end of the fiscal year and when some farm programs expire. Galen suggested farmers visit lawmakers at local fairs and meetings and log onto the NMPF website, www., and use the “Write to Congress” feature.   Dan McBride of the Northwest Dairy Association made these price projections for the Class III price and the Pacific Northwest blend price to producers: Month Class PNW III Blend July $17.38 $18.55 (current) Aug. $18.06 $18.90 Sept. $17.85 $19.00 Oct. $17.75 $18.90 Nov. $17.40 $18.45 Dec. $16.90 $17.85 Jan. $16.50 $17.50 Feb. $16.40 $17.30

Maude and Oscar Sheets was offered a job teaching and coaching at Lynden starting in 1956 — and he recovered from the weather disaster to continue to grow strawberries as well. The Maberry clan would eventually acquire extensive acreage on Loomis Trail Road as neighbors of the farm Oscar Sheets had created.   In the 1970s change was in the air for the Whatcom County berry industry. Federal law

Blanche and Leonard Maberry

Hydrangeas: When to prune and how to change color By David Vos

It’s late summer and despite all the other fun activities you’re trying to squeeze in before fall, now is the time to prune many varieties of hydrangeas around your yard. If you’ve ever struggled with getting your hydrangeas to bloom right — or even if you want to change the color of your blooms — here are some basic tips that can make your bushes look their best.    Hydrangeas come in many shapes, sizes and varieties, but for the most part you’ll find four different types in garden centers and around your neighborhood — and knowing which type you have will determine when and how to prune.   First, macrophylla hydrangeas are the most common type. Whether you have the standard mophead (large, round flowers) or lacecap (very small blossoms surrounded by a ring of larger blooms on each flower head), prune them now! Macrophylla hydrangeas typically only bloom on old wood,

meaning if you wait until next spring to prune your shrubs back, all the new growth they put out after their haircut will be nothing but leaves.    Traditional mopheads and lacecaps should be pruned just as the blooms fade in summer so they have time yet before fall to develop flower buds for next year.    The second most common hydrangea species is the paniculata family. You might know some of the common varieties like Limelight, Pee Gee or the newer Bombshell, all of which are easily distinguishable by their cone-shaped flowers. Unlike macrophylla types, paniculatas can be pruned anytime between late summer and mid-spring, and may not even need regular pruning at all.    A third common hydrangea species for our area is the arborescens type. The most common of these varieties is Annabelle, a white variety with large blooms, although others like Invincibelle Spirit — a pink variety — are common, too. Like paniculatas, these hy-


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drangeas can be pruned at any time other than late spring or summer.    The last main variety of hydrangea you’re likely to grow is quercifolia, more commonly known as oakleaf hydrangeas. They have cone-shaped flowers similar to paniculata types, but their leaf shape mimics that of an oak tree. Like macrophylla types, oakleaf hydrangeas should be pruned in late summer in order for them to bloom reliably the following year.    Now that you know the basic types of hydrangeas and when to prune each, let me offer this caveat: many of the new introductions in the last several years can be pruned

just about any time of year, regardless of which species they are. So, if you’re in the market for a new hydrangea and want to keep things simple, ask at a garden center for some of the newer varieties.   Finally, how can you change the color of your hydrangeas? In the Pacific Northwest, the acidity of our soil naturally turns macrophylla types blue over time. If you want to turn a hydrangea pink — or keep one that way — treat it with Bailey’s Color Me Pink, a soil additive available at local garden centers. Likewise, if you wish to intensify the shade of blue in your hydrangea, use Bailey’s Color Me Blue. Depending on your conditions

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COUNTRY PARTNERS Reporter: Taylor Slocum    On Saturday, July 13, Country Partners 4-H Club hosted a petting farm at City Park after the Everson-Nooksack festival parade.    We had lots of fun animals at the petting farm, including a pony, goats, lambs, rabbits, chickens, a calf and free lab rats that all went to good homes. We also had free kittens that also happily went to new owners.    We enjoyed some good park food and talking to people about 4-H.    Coming up, we have been discussing the 4-H parking lot for the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden as well as barn decorating details. We have assigned barn duty to each member of our club and have received new T-shirts.    Country Partners is also doing a booth at the Lynden fair.

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and desired color, multiple applications of either product may be needed. For better or worse, the color of white varieties cannot be changed.   Hydrangeas are beautiful shrubs and easy to grow. With a little attention to what type you have in your yard, you can enjoy loads of flowers each year while also maintaining the size of your plants. And with a little extra care, you can even change the color of your blooms to suit your taste!   David Vos is the general manger of Vander Giessen Nursery.

dictated that children should not pick strawberries, market competition with California got a lot stiffer and — most important of all — raspberry picking machines were being developed. Raspberry acreage began to expand while strawberry acreage declined.    Still, the Sheets and Maberry farms, by now in the hands of a second generation, were at the forefront.    Dale Sheets was the first local grower to try an adapted BEI (Blueberry Equipment Inc.) harvester in raspberries, said Marilyn DeVries, whose husband Frank bought Oscar Sheets’ land around 1981 and runs it as Berry Acres. The Maberrys were soon to follow with Oregon-made Littau and then Lynden-made Korvan picking machines.    County acreage today in raspberries tops 9,000 while strawberries may not even account for 300. However, blueberry planting is in a surge to rival raspberries. With still naturally growing roadside blackberries, it all adds up to earning Whatcom County the label “berry heaven.”    Through the changes, it all really started with Oscar and Maud Sheets moving here 100 years ago.    And the Missourians kept alive their shared roots with a bountiful picnic, especially known for its delicious berry and apple pies, for many years at Berthusen Park.

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A8 • Wednesday, August 14, 2013 •

Taking the country to the fair

From 4-H kids, top left and above, during the Northwest Washington Fair’s annual Opening Parade, to FFA students, bottom left, youth are not only learning how to show animals at the fair, but also how to educate others, as seen below, all about them. (Calvin Bratt and Tim Newcomb/Lynden Tribune)

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