Historic Restoration on Orcas Island
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. By the 1960’s Marshall had all but vanished.
Some say food is like fashion, changing trends merely carried in the breeze (or the ether) that powerfully influence what we eat.. I believe it’s more like a stew of lots of small collective decisions over time, larger overarching events and what came before that all help shape how we live our present and visualize our future. 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 in the personal memoirs of those who have grown, harvested, eaten, sold 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 willing hearts and hands working to help bring this fine berry back from the brink. Maybe in the telling 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 how we feed our families and communities.