Help Shellie-Ann Build a Sustainable Farm

Summary: I am an unapologetically black woman launching a farm in western Washington. Your donations will help me buy a tractor and implements, drill a new well, build high tunnels as well as construct a commercial/demonstration kitchen for making spice blends and teaching.

In 2013, I left my native Jamaica to join my spouse in Washington State and I immediately set out to plant whatever I could in the dead of winter- that turned out to be garlic. It did wonderfully, and I have grown some every year since. 

As the child of Jamaican subsistence farmers, I am a committed locavore. Over the years, I have kept chickens for eggs and manure, and have grown vegetables seasonally for my kitchen and to trade with neighbors. I donate surplus eggs to the Matlock Food Bank, who are always grateful to receive locally produced food. In 2016 I knew I would have had a surplus of produce, so I started a quarterly county-wide Food Swap where residents could converge to barter their homemade, homegrown, and wild-foraged edibles. Through these events, and by becoming a WSU Master Gardener, I have formed a robust network of wild-crafters, growers, and home cooks. I am an immigrant, but I have found a great sense of place in this community.

Growing my own food remains essential to my health and happiness. It gives me a sense of self-reliance. Sharing the surplus is an act of love towards my greater community- the once-thriving logging metropolises of Grays Harbor that have long been food deserts beset by immense poverty. I am looking to change that by expanding on the newly emergent farming network, working to include black and indigenous peoples who have faced tremendous discrimination and providing access to fresh, healthy food. 

I realize that most Jamaicans working in Agriculture on this continent are, and have been for generations, migrant workers who often operate farms at home but leave to endure harsh conditions on larger estates for a season before returning to their individual plots. My father, in his youth, was a migrant farmworker in Canada. One of his sons is today, a migrant farmworker in eastern Washington. I embody their spirit and hustle, and I acknowledge that it is a great privilege to own and manage the land I farm on, which is why I commit to the highest level of sustainable stewardship.

The farm, Bunkhouse Acres, is a 20-acre homestead and designated tree farm in the Middle Satsop Valley, in the homelands of the Tsihalis Salishan people. In the 19th century, the area became a hub for the Schafer Brothers Logging Company, which led to the construction of a railway and several lumber camps. John Tornow, the legendary Wild Man of the Wynoochee, was raised in the vicinity. Our house was built in the 1940s out of two original bunkhouses that had once housed lumberjacks and auxiliary timber workers. We occasionally find railway spikes lying in unexplored areas of the property. There are still, today, extensive logging operations in the valley.

While I would like to farm full-time, I still maintain employment offsite. Having a steady stream of income allows me to put funds aside for the equipment and labor that I will need to invest in a more extensive farm operation. Your donations will give me a much-needed boost in purchasing a compact tractor and hiring help to clear the land for large-scale planting. Funds will also be used for building high tunnels and a demonstration kitchen for preparing spice blends and imparting another of my passions- baking with sourdough.

Thank you.

Website: Bunkhouse Acres 
Instagram: @bunkhouseacres 


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