“Modern Farming Pioneers” to Speak at Co-op Lecture


We’re excited to have the farmers of Washington state’s first and only certified organic cranberry farm at our next monthly lecture Beers to Your Health at Fort George Brewery. Jared Oakes & Jessika Tantisook of Starvation Alley Farms will tell their story of transitioning their bogs to organic and helping others do the same.

Starvation-AlleyStarvation Alley encompasses a total of 10 acres in Seaview Washington and Long Beach. The couple took over the farm where Oakes grew up in 2010. They wanted to farm cranberries organically, but were told by farmers and other experts that it wasn’t possible. They explored that assumption and eventually gained organic certification for their farm.

“It is hard, especially in the beginning because we didn’t have any support. If you want to learn to grow organic apples you could probably find enough stuff on line, call universities, or get advice from professionals. That wasn’t available for cranberries. As new farmers transitioning to organic we lost a lot of production for the first two years, hence the value added products,” Tantisook said.

Starvation Alley created a brand of juice that attracted the attention of the emerging craft cocktail industry. The farmers sell their product to 70 accounts, mostly bars in Portland and Seattle. They sell their juice and cranberries at farmers markets and locally at Astoria Co-op. The juice is raw, unsweetened and undiluted cranberries. It is not heated or pasteurized which Tantisook says enhances the health benefits and taste.

Starvation Alley Farms is building its research database with a goal of spreading sustainable farming and educating consumers about the food system and the importance of supporting local farmers. They are working with two other cranberry growers on the Long Beach Peninsula to transition to organic certification. There are currently only about 300 acres of organic cranberry farms in the U.S. out of 39,000 total acres of producing cranberry bogs.

Tantisook and Oakes will be here at Astoria Co-op Grocery on Thursday December 11, 4-6 p.m. offering free samples of their juice. Anyone from the public is welcome to stop by and meet the farmers and sample their products. They will then present at Beers to Your Health at the Fort George Lovell Showroom (14th and Duane St. in Astoria) starting at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. The talk is free and open to all ages.

Crooked Cow Cheese Tasting at the Co-op

Photo by Lynette McAdams

Photo by Lynette McAdams

Artisan Cheese-maker Cynthia Clark admits her business, Crooked Cow Cheese in Naselle, WA, is a way to pay for what she calls her cow habit.

“Most little girls want horses and I always wanted soft brown cows,” Cynthia said.

The Co-op recently started carrying Cynthia’s raw cheddar. Cynthia says she is passionate about caring for her cows, feeding them the best food she can afford, and treating them well. For example, she milks them just once a day, resulting in less stress for the animals. The end result is happy cows and a quality product.

The name, Crooked Cow, comes from the name of one of her three cows. Crooked, is a gigantic Brown Swiss cow. Cynthia says her milk has the right balance of fat and protein, making it ideal for cheese. Cynthia makes wheels of cheddar cheese from her cow’s milk and ages them in a temperature controlled cave for more than 90 days, creating a phenomenal flavor.
On the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, Cynthia will be at the Co-op offering samples of Crooked Cow Cheese. Stop by on November 22 from 11-1 to meet Chythia and taste her delicious cheese.

And we’ll also be having our monthly free tour, talk and taste class during the tasting.  This event focuses on the local and regional artisan cheeses the Co-op carries.  Sign up in advance.  The tour happens November 22 from 11:30-noon.