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 laying in unexplored areas of the property. There are still, today, extensive logging operations in the valley.
In 2013, I left my native Jamaica to join my spouse in Washington State. They had bought acreage for the primary purpose of storing collectibles. I felt as thought the land was calling me to a higher purpose so 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; I aspire to grow a commercial quantity for a 2021 harvest.
I am a committed locavore. Over the years I have kept chickens for eggs and manure, and have grown vegetables seasonally for my own kitchen and to trade with neighbors. 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 solid community of wild-crafters, growers and home cooks.
While I would like to farm full-time, I still maintain employment as an aircraft dispatcher. Having a steady stream of income allows me to put funds aside for the equipment and labor that I will need to invest into a larger farm operation. There has been a slowdown in the aviation industry due to the global pandemic so there is some uncertainty about my career prospects. I am happy, however, that I have property I can return to, that will sustain me if I let it.