This is the first post from a wonderful visit to Feral Farm in Washington State from 1st to 4th September 2015! Michael Pilarski was the first to recommend that I visit Feral Farm, he had given a workshop there himself, writing “Feral Farm, Matthew Van Boven, Rockport, Washington in the upper Skagit River valley. Matt has a fantastic experiment going incorporating edibles and useful plants into a native forest.”
I contacted Matt and his lovely lady GuruBani and I was welcomed straight away to visit and give a workshop! On my journey through Oregon, it was clear that Matt’s project was highly regarded and so my expectations were high when I arrived at Mt. Vernon on the bus. I was not to be disappointed! Matt had kindly come down the valley to pick me up and he took the opportunity to stop off at Balser Tree Farm where he’d been given permission to harvest nuts and fruit. It was established in 1988 by Donald S. Balser “Don” and his wife Jane close to Mt, Vernon, WA. Don had died in 2006 and had been survived by his wife who was home when we arrived. Sadly, Jane died soon after moving into a care centre just 3 months after my visit.
Don had quite a life as his obituary tells:
“In 1988, a new property caught his eye. A 20-acre piece of farmland in Skagit County. Because of its flatness and its deep rich soil it was in sharp contrast to the Camano property and was better suited to his goals of furthering the future of nut trees, their propagation and their development. With fervent attention and effort he developed the new land into what it is today. A beautiful green tribute to his brilliant scientific mind, his strong back and hands and his unflagging devotion to his chosen research. This estate includes 5 acres of select nut tree varieties, park-like views and a pond for irrigation and wildlife. This is where he built the wonderful home he designed with his wife. They decided to spend their years here.” (see the whole story here: http://www.stenvorde.de/don_balser_2.html)
The land is sadly to be sold, so my album (follow the link below) shows some of the last pictures taken in this important collection of nut trees….some of the genes have however been secured as most of Matt’s heartnut trees are seedlings of Don’s best trees