San Juans has left a majour impression on me. Not just this visit, but since Moose started taking me out there with him. It's not like we go every summer or even once a year, but something about the island is intoxicating, and it ain't moonshine. Maybe it's that "free country air" as Cookie Monster calls it.
To some point, the San Juan Islands have always been a hippie's haven. I am sure there's always been a fair share of reclusive people as well as people looking for a community to belong to. Sustainability and self sufficiency have really taken root on the islands. More than i remember last time we visited, but maybe because i know what to look for now. Maybe because of the costs of transporting goods via a ferry system that charges an obscene amount of cash; maybe because people there are realising what a great ecosystem they have there and it's need to be protected.
For a while now, homeowners have been required to collect rain water for use in their home as the island has little, if any, aquifer. Huge tanks the size of a VW bug are found all over for collecting rainwater in. I think most are buried. Even the marinas' bathrooms use filtered rainwater for sink, shower, and toilets. My hair has never looked or felt so great since i moved from Idaho as it has up at the San Juans. Moose's too. So much so we have been considering rainwater collection for our future home.
This time, i noticed more restaurants and other businesses selling items from the islands. By all means, it's not like there isn't a single thing for sale from China on the islands, but slowly, the restaurants have begun to switch to offer eggs and other items from their neighbours' farms. The "local" shelves at the grocery stores are expanding. Dairy items from creameries on the islands are popping up for sale within as well. In talking with the some of the locals, people actually admitted that they shouldn't be travelling to the mainland just to visit the fertile shopping cresents with the big box stores now that there is so much fresh food grown and sold locally. It's a start, right?
All along the roads among the islands are signs telling of the talents of the landowners within the fences. Some are alpaca farmers, chicken keepers, veggie farmers, artists, blacksmiths, etc. One of the signs for a farm on San Juan Island intrigued me so much, i begged to visit. Thankfully Moose obliged. From the road, all you could see was fruit and evergreen trees dotting a blanket of grass-covered, hilly terrian. Throw in a pond or two. And a sign that read, "Fresh Pasta. Homemade meat pies. Eggs. Open."
In packing and preping meals for our trip, i had decided that it would be nice to take a break from hauling in and boiling water for washing dishes at least once, so on the night we needed dinner, we visited the farm with the intriguing sign.
The place is called "The States Inn". It's a B&B, farm, and grocery all in one.
We weren't certain exactly what we'd find beyond the door. Much to my delight, it was like arriving in Heaven for me!
What's not to love, eh?
Walking inside the door, you were greeted with the comforting scent of fresh, homemade bread. And there is was, right on the table near the door; perfect loaves in a basket, slightly covered by a kitchen towel. To your left was refrigerator case with a very generous offering of homemade pasta with homegrown, homemade sauce. A freezer case held ice cream from a creamery on Lopez Island. Some of the ice cream was turned into homemade ice cream sandwiches. In the back was a refrigerator case of eggs and other essentials. Near the cash register was a bookcase containing the ranches honey and other items for sale from local entreprenuers. There were scarf project kits for knitters or crocheters from the
I was completely dumbfounded by the beauty of the store. So simple. So elegant. So perfect. And in the end of winter too! The perfect mix of value added food waiting to be consumed! Exactly the kind of business i am hoping to run from our farmstand someday. Can you imagine? Oy!
The food is made with items they have grown on the ranch or have acquired locally. Behind the register was a collection of signs that were detailing the ranches participation in 4H--with animals being purchased from the island's 4H members to be turned into local meats.
So, the gentleman in charge of the whole operation helped us pick up some dinner items.
Thankfully, he guided us toward the mushroom hand pies and
the summer lasagna. He also graciously helped us decide the best way to warm the meals in our stripped down facilities in the cabin. He even provided us with some aluminum foil and extra cheese to help us with our cooking adventure.
Definitely an experience Oh! What it must be like to be a guest there!
So it goes without saying then that the next time we head to the San Juans, i'll be lobbying to skip our food prep altogether and visit the wonderfully bountiful homestead of the owners of the States Inn.
Give their website a look-see if you have a minute. There is an adorable ranch blog included, that is now featuring a chick cam of the most adorable batch of chicks they just ordered. Whew! Have they got their hands full, but what a glorious job!