Early 2017, the Olga Strawberry Council received grants that enabled it to purchase and distribute rare baby Marshall Strawberry plants to various farms and gardens on Orcas Island. In late October of 2017, approximately 150 Marshall Strawberry plants were distributed to a multitude of farms and gardens on Orcas. Our project was a success with thousands of Marshalls thriving on Orcas Island by 2020!
THE MARSHALL STORY...
From 1934-1944, Orcas Island filled 450 acres of its land with Marshall Strawberry fields. At its height, Island farmers produced 241 tons of berries for market and shipped 2.5 million Marshall strawberry plants to farmers in the northwest. Last year, the Olga Strawberry Council (OSC) conducted a promotion that spread the Artworks building’s history as a Marshall Strawberry barreling plant. During that promotion, Leah Gauthier, well known for her 10-year mission to bring the Marshall back from near extinction, came to Orcas. In 2017, she made it possible for us to purchase 200 genetically certified Marshall Strawberry which the Council distributed free of charge to Orcas farms and gardens committed to participating in this project. Also adding to our project, Annette Mazzarella, an Orcas Island resident who secured certified Marshall plants from the USDA facility in Corvalis, Oregon about 3 years earlier, gave us another 80+ plants to distribute! By the end of summer 2018, 300-400 Marshall Strawberry plants once again inhabited Orcas Island farms and gardens. By 2021 it is estimated there are thousands.
It is an opportunity to revive the growing and distribution of the delicious Marshall Strawberry on Orcas and turn it into a thriving cash crop for many years to come. It will also benefit local merchants who can sell the berries and offsprings to the public regionally. We know the climate and circumstances on Orcas are receptive to the growing of Marshalls, and we have some of the bet organic farms and gardens eager to participate in the revival effort. They are: the Orcas Community Participatory Agriculture Garden (OCPA), Melody Farm, Sunny Slope Farm (the original Rodenberger Marshall strawberry farm), Taproot Farm, McDonald Garden, Orcas Farm, Doe Bay Garden, Warm Valley Farm and Coates Garden.
In Leah Gauthier's words: “How does a berry, once loved to the point of obsession, almost go extinct? Some of the story lies in industrialization, some in disease, some in war; but most, I believe, is in the personal memoirs of those who have grown, processed, eaten and loved Marshalls. I hope, during the course of this project, to weave the memories of Marshall's past into the dreams of today's hearts and hands willing to help bring this fine berry back from the brink. Between the renewed planting of the berries on Orcas and the and telling of the stories, we'll uncover some grains of wisdom and a deeper self-awareness which might help guide more purposefully our unfolding choices around what we grow and what we sew.”
Thank you so much to those who helped fund our grant and to the farms and gardens who participated in this delicious project!!
June 8-9, 2019
In collaboration with the Olga Strawberry Council, Maria Bullock guided eight workshop participants through the process of custom designing and creating a unique hat made of bullrush according to one’s individual taste and skill set. The hats were light weight, breathable, long lasting and very stylish! The workshop was held at the Olga Community Center on a typically pleasant June weekend on Orcas Island.
• Making Art from Nature • Artisan Broom Making • Photography • Sculpturing in Cement • Maskmaking • Lantern Making • Drawing Portraits • Woodcuts • Cedar Basketmaking • Creative Paper Designs • Mixed Media Art • Clay Monoprints