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Simplicity and efficiency in design Solar provides sustainability Transformative energy in Oak Harbor soil Farming comes alive in Greenbank Bird friendly garden plants Growing the great pumpkin


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RAISING THE GREAT PUMPKIN Dr. Roof has prescription for gigantic gourds

GREENBANK HOME Designed for efficiency and simplicity


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Revitalized agriculture program at Greenbank Farm.


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Oak Harbor

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Uniquely shaped compost pile provides fertile soil and transformative energy BY REBECCA OLSON | STAFF REPORTER

With the Zylinskys’ help, nature created a paradise in their backyard. A kiwi plant intertwines with a Himalayan honeysuckle and comfrey grows out of one of many compost piles, its roots embraced by the rich, black soil inside. Comfy sofas laze in the Zylinskys’ outdoor living room, looking out on a backyard fantasy world of ruby-hued currants, emerald leaves and succulent fruits arranged not in rows but in harmonic mazes bursting with life. At the back of the yard is a dragon of a compost pile. It sweeps along the fence, red and green peppers forming its backbone, its body created by decomposing yard waste and table scraps. In some places, it’s as tall as Netsah Zylinsky. “It was a great deal of fun to make,” Zylinsky said. Zylinsky chose a dragon shape for her biggest compost pile because she said dragons bring transformative energy, and her goal is to transform ideas about composting. More than anything, she said she wants to get children interested in composting. She said she plans to write a book on how to compost and will title it “The Birth of the Dragon.”

The dragon is 4 years old. Neighborhood children helped Zylinksy decorate it, and she said she enjoyed the energy and excitement they put into the task. She also has two 3-year-old neighborhood compost piles, one of which has herbs growing all over it. “Composting is easy and very fun. The community can be involved if you tell them you’re starting a pile and bring grass clippings and yard waste,” Zylinsky said. “It takes time to compost, but in that time you build neighborhood relationships and change waste that would go to landfills into something beneficial.” Zylinsky dug rich, black soil out of a 4-year-old compost pile, adding its GENERAL CONTRACTOR dark scent to the flower-perfumed air. serving “How beautiful Living the soiland is — how locally for 30 years black, fragrant. That’s what we’re going for,” Zylinsky t/FX$POTUSVDUJPO said. Zylinsky uses the soil from her t3FNPEFMJOH compost piles for t"EEJUJPOT her permaculture garden. 360-678-6040 “It’s amazing you can do all this in -JD$$4P"5;8-13 an urban backyard,” Zylinsky said, noting that even though her downtown Oak Harbor lot is small, what’s important is how much she can grow and how sustainably. CONTINUED ON PAGE 5

Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times

Netsah Zylinsky and neighbors built a dragon of a compost pile to transform yard waste and food scraps into soil for her garden.

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“You’re partnering and co-creating with nature rather than manipulating land to make it give us what we want.” — Pat Bati

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“Permaculture is about permanently sustainable planting and design and it always mimics nature,” Zylinsky said. “The idea is that I could walk away from this garden and it would keep running; it really is sustainable.” To truly make a garden sustainable, Zylinsky said a person might observe their land for almost a year to figure out how to work with it. Gardeners need to observe the sun, wind and water before they can understand where to plant and what plants should grow next to each other, Zylinsky said. She said she discovered companion plants to ward off insects and she mixes flowers and fruits to make them resistant to disease. “I like to come out and ask nature to work with me,” Zylinsky said. “You’re partnering and co-creating with nature rather than manipulating land to make it give us what we want,” Zylinsky’s friend Pat Bati said. Zylinsky said she plans to create a nonprofit permaculture institute with a focus on teaching children. She wants to help children create a public garden with food, herbs and flowers, the products of which would benefit the homeless. Until then, Zylinsky will teach neighborhood children about composting and work in her own garden. “We’re sort of creating what does heaven on earth look like — and here it is, in its own humble way,” Zylinsky said.


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Roof raises

Great Pumpkin

Longtime Coupeville doctor has prescription for gigantic gourds


The kind of pumpkins Lee Roof raises won’t make good jack-o-lanterns — unless you plan to spend all day hauling pounds and pounds of pumpkin guts. Instead, Roof grows his giant pumpkins for the annual Whidbey Island Giant Pumpkin Contest. This is the 16th year for the contest, which will take place at the Harvest Festival in Coupeville on Saturday, Oct. 8. Growing a giant pumpkin is a sixmonth process from planting to harvest, Roof said. He uses seeds from past giant pumpkins of the Atlantic Giant variety. To get these pumpkins to put on

pounds, Roof said it’s about the seed, the soil, the correct pruning techniques, good weather (which Whidbey Island hasn’t had) and “most importantly, good luck. You can do everything right and it won’t grow or it will grow too fast and split,” Roof said. Roof said he prefers organic fertilizers, such as fish and seaweed. He uses a “compost tea,” a tasty brew of compost, molasses, meal and more. “You don’t have to do all that. You can grow a nice pumpkin by taking care of the vine and growing one pumpkin per vine,” Roof said. That’s the biggest trick to giant pumpkin-growing: keeping only one CONTINUED ON PAGE 7




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Pg 7

pumpkin per vine. The vine should be pruned so it supports just one pumpkin and “all the plant’s energy goes into making the fruit and not more vine,” Roof said. Roof’s pumpkins live under blue tarps to keep the sun from hardening their skins. If a pumpkin grows too quickly, the skin will crack, Roof said. On Whidbey Island, sheltering pumpkins isn’t usually necessary but Roof prefers to do it. The world record pumpkin weight is 1,800 pounds, Roof said. Coupeville’s largest pumpkin weighed 1,016 pounds. Phil Renninger raised that champion for the pumpkin contest two years ago. Even if your personal pumpkins don’t weigh much, Roof said he encourages people to enter theirs into the Giant Pumpkin Contest. “This year’s been pretty cold so even if you don’t have a big pumpkin, enter it because no one will have huge ones,” Roof said. Roof has been raising his gentle giants since before the contest began 16 years ago. He helped start the contest. “It’s become a real fixture at the Harvest Fest,” Roof said, adding that the festival acts as the final Farmers Market of the season and includes a scarecrow contest. “The pumpkin contest is really a fun thing. Kids love it — they’re crawling all over the pumpkins and can’t believe how big they are. It’s just a fun, fun event,” Roof said. Contest entries should be checked in at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 8. The weighing will begin at noon. Local businesses will donate prizes for the winners of the biggest, prettiest, ugliest and biggest by a junior pumpkin grower, as well as the biggest zucchini. There is no fee to enter the contest. The contest is sponsored by the Coupeville Festival Association. Roof said he encourages potential pumpkin-growers to contact him for information at 675-5687. Free giant pumpkin seeds will be available in the spring for the next round of champions.

Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times

Lee Roof kneels beside a giant pumpkin he’s growing for the 16th Annual Whidbey Island Giant Pumpkin Contest in October. Bad weather has kept the pumpkin from growing as huge as he’d like, but Roof said he plans to enter the pumpkin.


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Greenbank home designed for efficiency & simplicity BY REBECCA OLSON | STAFF REPORTER


aint and the exterior of the Lloyds’ house will never meet. Unique design elements kept Jerry and Connie Lloyd’s Greenbank house from ever requiring paint. Low, low maintenance was a key element to the design of the Lloyds’ home, built in November 2009 by Yonkman Construction in Oak Harbor and designed by James Sykora. “We just see too much money and work being spent on maintaining houses,� Jerry said. The solution? Build using vinyl instead of wood and downsize to make the home more energy efficient, Jerry said. Instead of repainting the exterior of the house every 10 years, which Jerry estimated to be a $10,000 expense, he just washes his house “every few years with a

Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times

ABOVE: Vinyl siding doesn’t need to be painted and requires little maintenance. The Lloyds chose vinyl that resembles cedar shingles for their home. At RIGHT: Jerry Lloyd said his favorite “one-can cupboard� is a great space saver because it puts dead space in the wall to work.



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Jerry and Connie Lloyd with dogs Saco, Chloe and Jett, stand in front of the wooden fireplace Jerry created. Energy efficient dual pane windows are framed by glowing woodwork.

car wash brush,� Jerry said. Vinyl does cost more than wood, Jerry said, but it pays for itself over time. While wood looks nice, the Whidbey Island weather ruins it, Jerry said, whereas vinyl is durable and weatherresistant. About how his house holds up to the weather, Jerry said “oh, it’s bomb-proof.� The home is made from vinyl siding and the exterior trim is made from Azek, a durable PVC product that requires no paint. Using vinyl to build houses is much more popular on the East Coast, Jerry said. “A vinyl house doesn’t have to look like a vinyl house now,� Jerry said, noting that the vinyl siding can be made to look like wood and comes in greens, browns, blues, reds, white and more. The Lloyds have vinyl that

looks like cedar shingles. “I’ll argue that you can’t tell the difference from five feet away,� Jerry said. “Why paint when you’ve got this many choices? It’s mind-blowing.� Jerry also used vinyl for his horse barn and pasture fences, which means no maintenance, a plus because Jerry is busy teaching dog agility and horse jumping to 4–H children and Connie is a certified riding instructor and runs a physical therapy clinic from the sunroom in their home. After moving from Seattle to Whidbey Island, the Lloyds lived in their 750-square-foot guest house with four dogs. They’d planned to model their retirement home after their Seattle home. “We realized we don’t need so much space,� Connie said, adding CONTINUED ON PAGE 9

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RIGHT: The Lloyds’ dog Chloe enjoys the heated bathroom floor, which the Lloyds splurged on in their house design. Just set the thermostat for the time you want the floor warmed and it does the rest, Jerry said. BELOW: Jerry Lloyd constructed the wooden trim out of fallen trees salvaged from his property after a windstorm. Connie Lloyd created the stained glass lamp.

Pg 9 that their 1,800-squarefoot home is cozy and easier to clean. “If you want to be energy efficient, just build a small house — not to mention it saves on property taxes,” Jerry said. Smaller houses are cheaper to heat and with the Lloyds’ hybrid insulation they spend even less on heating. Blown-in batting, a fiberglass insulation, fills corners and dead spaces between the walls so there are fewer cold spots. Extra insulation was put in the attic because much heat is lost there. Urethane compounds were blown into the places where floors meet to make them tight, Jerry said. “You spend more money on insulation so you can spend less on a furnace,” Jerry said. Jerry said the insulation is a key element to making his home more energy efficient. “I don’t think there’s any doubt

Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times

Low maintenance and energy efficiency were key to the design of the Lloyds’ home. Vinyl siding and trim, extra insulation and passive solar heating contribute to this goal.

heating costs won’t go down — not in anybody’s lifetime,” Jerry said. Jerry said he appreciated the sensitivity of Yonkman Construction’s president, Scott Yonkman, to discovering the best insulation hybrid. Jerry also appreciated that Yonkman allowed him to use his own wood to build the staircase, a bathroom and the fireplace. Woodworking is Jerry’s hobby

and he usually puts his skills to work remodeling homes to sell. He created the fireplace, staircase and bathroom trim out of wood he salvaged from trees that fell on his property during a windstorm approximately four years ago. After he made the parts, Yonkman’s trim carpenters put them up, Jerry said. CONTINUED ON PAGE 13

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Future farmers burgeoning in


Revitalized farm program attracts recent college grads BY NATHAN WHALEN | STAFF REPORTER

Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Nathaniel Talbot, a student at the Greenbank farmer training center, picks tomatoes for shareholders in a community supported agriculture program. He is one of five students participating in the program.

Farmers from across the country are coming to Whidbey Island to learn to grow crops, raise animals and market their products at local markets. The publicly owned Greenbank Farm is the home of the unique and growing agriculture program. Five student farmers involved this summer have five acres of the scenic farm to grow crops; they even started raising broiler chickens and goats. This year’s crop of students come from as far away as Indiana and Illinois to fulfill their dream to learn farming at the Greenbank Farm.



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Adam Brown, a La Porte, Ind., resident and graduate of Western Michigan University, hopes to one day operate his own farm and research showed the Greenbank program is a place to get some training. “The more I read, the more I saw the importance of sustainable ecosystems,” Brown said while carrying basil from the field. “You also get the benefit of providing great food for the community.” Prior to coming to Whidbey Island, he was living in Bend, Ore. Nathaniel Talbot decided to enter the training program because of the classroom and experiential opportunities offered at the farm. “I couldn’t find anything that even closely resembled this,” Talbot said while picking cherry and sun gold toGREENBANK CONTINUES PAGE 11

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matoes from plants growing inside a hoop house. He hopes to lease land somewhere in Oregon or Washington to start a seed farm. Annie Jesperson, a North Dakota native, is hoping to incorporate farming and social work. That way people learn the community and therapeutic aspects of farming while acquiring the skills to feed themselves. The farmer training center in Greenbank was originally funded by the Northwest Agriculture Business Center in Mount Vernon. However, the association cut off support because of funding problems. To ensure the program continued, supporters raised $50,000 and instituted a tuition of $3,000, said Maryon Attwood, who coordinates the training program. “People were very interested in seeing the program continue,� Attwood said. This year’s students are growing such crops as broccoli, corn, tomatoes and zucchini. They sell their crops Saturdays at the Coupeville Farmers Market and they offer a communitysupported agriculture program where 55 Whidbey Island residents have purchased shares. In addition, the center’s crops are available for purchase Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times


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Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Adam Brown carries basil as he walks through a field at the Greenbank Farm.

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irdfeeders full of seed or suet can attract many birds to your garden, but the garden itself can provide shelter, nesting materials, water, berries and seeds to keep them coming back. Imagine a birdfeeder you never have to replenish! Add shrubs, grasses and flowers to your garden to feed those hungry birds and enjoy a revolving show of chickadees, juncos, jays and finches. These plants do more than feed the birds, however. They are beautiful landscape plants as well. Wait until spring to cut back perennials and grasses so the birds can feast on seeds. Add running water to your garden. Goldfinches especially love to flutter on a shallow stone in a waterfall or perch on a nearby vine maple to wait their turn to bathe. A shallow birdbath is also an attractive treat for birds and voyeurs alike. Plant your own seed and berry-

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GREENBANK CONTINUED FROM 11 at the Star Store in Langley and the Goose Community Grocer in Bayview. Attwood added some interesting education projects also are taking place at the training center. For example, students are growing test rows of corn for a seed alliance and seed crops are being developed for a company in Vermont. The training center also opened the classes to interns working at other farms on Whidbey Island. However, only a few participated. Plans are under way to fine tune the training program for the next growing

season. Attwood emphasizes that the Greenbank program is the only residential farm education opportunity in the state. She hopes to see enrollment in the program double next year. Once the five students finish the growing season in the fall, they will continue developing skills necessary for a successful life in agriculture. One student, Laura Kinser, wants to apprentice at a farm and learn such aspects as building construction and animal husbandry to increase her knowledge so she can start her own farm. The skills she’s learned at the Greenbank Farm have already given her a valuable start. “I feel a lot more enabled to start my own project,� Kinser said.


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Pg 13

Solar panels

ENERGIZE Coupeville



Even on cloudy days, John Kohlmann’s Coupeville home is hard at work producing energy. A bank of solar panels covers a section of his roof. While they’re only slightly visible from the road, they make a big difference on the inside of the Kohlmanns’ home. The solar panel meter boasts that the Kohlmanns have saved 14,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and produced 8,500 kilowatts of energy in the year and a half since the panels were installed. Cloudy Whidbey Island days may slow the panels’ production but they still capture sunlight seeping through the clouds. “You think these systems are

for California or Phoenix, places where there’s a lot of sunshine. But I learned that the production lessens as the temperature goes over 70 degrees and they produce less energy. Even though we’re way up here we can produce the same amount of power as in California,” Kohlmann said. Kohlmann and his wife, Pat, weren’t interested in installing solar panels until the past couple of years when Kohlmann began seeing more articles about solar panels. He noticed that the technologies were improving. The federal tax incentives certainly didn’t hurt. The 30 percent CONTINUED ON PAGE 14

HOME DESIGN CONTINUED FROM 9 Adding to the creative atmosphere, Connie made a stained glass window and lamp for the bathroom. Storage was another key element in the home’s design. Yonkman devised an insulated crawl space, a four-foothigh semi-basement with lights and carpet. This cuts down on heating costs in winter because it maintains a ground temperature that’s warmer than the air temperature, Jerry said. Another simple heat-saver is the passive solar heating built into the home. Sun beams through the

skylights, heating the tile floor below and warming the room, Jerry said. The location of windows, air ducts and heating ducts also contributes to passive heating. Prepared to keep becoming more energy efficient, the Lloyds even wired their horse arena for solar panels for the day the technology improves and becomes less expensive. About the design of his home, Jerry smiled and said, “There’s not a thing I would change.”

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Pg 14


Purchase solar panels from Whidbey seller Whidbey Sun and Wind offers solar panels linked to energy companies and battery backup systems, which allow homes to operate solely from solar energy. They also offer solar hot water systems and wind turbines. Benefits of solar panels include the following: years of power purchased in advance to offset rising energy costs; a clean, renewable, silent energy source; value added to the home; little maintenance in a system that will last up to 30 years; and an offset of carbon dioxide emissions. For solar panels to produce optimally, due south orientation of the roof is best, but southwest works, too. The area will need to be in the sun for six hours per day, free of shading from trees or buildings. Receive a 30 percent tax credit for solar system purchase and installation. A typical residential system, ranging from 10 to 50 solar modules, costs $15,000 to $70,000 after the tax credit. Contact Whidbey Sun and Wind at 678-7131 or visit them at 987 Wanamaker Rd., Coupeville.

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John Kohlmann chose solar panels with dark frames so they would blend better with his roof. He said he is pleased that they are less visible from the road.

SOLAR CONTINUED FROM 13 tax credit saved Kohlmann a chunk of change on the $31,000 panels. By saving $1,400 per year on power, Kohlmann expects his investment to pay for itself within 15 years. Kohlmann said he considers the panels to be a powerful investment. “The cost of power’s never going to go down and this will sit here and provide us energy,” Kohlmann said. The system doesn’t supply all the energy the Kohlmanns need but Kohlmann said they’re getting close to becoming revenue-neutral, which is his goal. Kohlmann uses the energy produced by the panels right away in the house. He sells any unused energy to Puget Sound Energy, which offsets his costs of buying energy from PSE. This is especially helpful during the short, cloudy winter days when the panels produce only a few kilowatts of energy per day. Summer months can yield

approximately 30 kilowatts per day. Kohlmann keeps an eye on his monitor in the garage, noting kilowatt production now and then. A batterypowered lawn mower, tank-less hot water heater and heat pump instead of furnace add to his goal of being more energy-conscious. Kohlmann chose to purchase the panels from Whidbey Sun and Wind after studying multiple off-island contractors. He said he chose Whidbey Sun and Wind because they were sensitive to making the system less visible by installing dark-colored framing. “I was really comfortable with the Sun and Wind people and I like that I can drive down the road and see them and know they’re there,” Kohlmann said. Installation took two days. No upkeep is required, but Kohlmann said he calls someone to clean the panels once a year. Whidbey Sun and Wind also installed solar panels at the Greenbank CONTINUED ON PAGE 15

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Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times

RIGHT: John Kohlmann recently invested in solar panels and is nearly revenue-neutral by selling extra power to Puget Sound Energy. BELOW: Kohlmann focused on energy efficiency in his house design and birdfriendly garden, including this fountain the birds like to bathe in.

Farm and the Island Athletic Club. Mark Anderson from Whidbey Sun Mark Anderson from Whidbey Sun and Wind said he encourages people considering solar panels to do their homework. Whidbey Sun and Wind offers solar panels linked to energy companies like PSE, which Kohlmann has, and battery back-up systems, which are more expensive but allow homes to operate solely from solar energy without paying companies for power. They also offer solar hot water systems and wind turbines. “There are a lot of myths. People think solar panels won’t work in Washington and that they can’t afford them,�

Anderson said, adding that while there are less solar resources in Washington than some other states, solar resources here are higher than in Germany, the world leader of solar power. To offset high costs, Anderson said low-interest loans and tax incentives can help. “It’s expensive so you have to be willing to bear that expense for a while. It’s easy to be intimidated by the expense but it does pay for itself; it’s just that it takes 15 years to pay for itself,� Kohlmann said. “It’s not a flexible investment like a stock that you can sell but it’s a good way to use money that’ll come back to you.�

Insiration comes from the perfect color. From a simple start to a fabulous finish, Ace has all the supplies for your next painting project.

Your Hometown Locally Owned Hardware Store


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Burning natural vegetation, such as lawn clippings, leaves, and tree trimmings produces harmful air pollutants. Breathing these pollutants can have serious health impacts especially for children, the elderly, and those with asthma, respiratory illness, or heart disease.

Permanent Burn Ban Areas Washington State law permanently banned residential yard debris and land-clearing burning in Coupeville, Freeland, Langley and Oak Harbor. For clean, healthy alternatives to burning, visit www.nwcleanair.org or call your local solid waste department.




          purchased by October 10, 2011     


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Profile for Sound Publishing

Home and Garden - Fall 2011  


Home and Garden - Fall 2011