Building Earth Farm and Madrona Grove Fruit Truck Readies for the 2011 Season

Building Earth Farm, at 9140 Steamboat Island Road, is now taking orders for the 2011 season and announcing a Summer Celebration on July 1st. In the Griffin area, we’re lucky to have access to a variety of local agricultural producers. We’ve written about Building Earth Farm on this blog, before. And, Building Earth Farm is one of the locations for the Madrona Grove Fruit Truck.

Summer Celebration
Friday, July 1st
4 PM to 7 PM
9140 Steamboat Island Rd. NW

On the afternoon of July 1st, the Building Earth Farm will open its’ garden gates to celebrate the opening of the season. There’ll be samples to taste and purchase.

Building Earth Farm Stand
Open weekly Tuesdays and Fridays, 12 noon to 7 PM
Beginning in late June (Mother Nature sets the exact date)

The Madrona Grove Fruit Truck will once again bring Washington-grown fruits picked at the perfect ripeness, local vegetables, and weekly surprises to you at 9140 Steamboat Island Road.

Building Earth 2011 Harvest Dates

Broiler Chickens
July 15, 16, 17
August 19, 20, 21
September 23, 24, 25



Building Earth Farm is now taking orders for broiler chickens. Their animals are raised without antibiotics or hormones; outdoors on pasture, connected with the ground. The chickens and turkeys are also fed organic grain.

For more details and to put your order in for broiler chickens, contact the Building Earth Farm directly:
9140 Steamboat Island Rd. NW
Olympia, WA 98502

Local Native American Heritage

SquaxinIslandLogoIndigenous peoples have inhabited the southern Puget Sound area for many centuries.

Prior to the arrival of Euro-Americans, indigenous peoples inhabiting Puget Sound had a vibrant culture and relatively dense populations. They were maritime peoples who called themselves “People of the Water”. Puget Sound was sacred. It also served as their basic means of transportation and a source of food.

Prior to the Medicine Creek Treaty of 1855, native peoples living in southern Puget Sound were known by the inlet on which they lived. A separate band of native peoples occupied each inlet. They were known by the name of their inlet. People living along both shores of what is now called Eld Inlet were known as the Squi-Ailt. People living along both shores of what is now called Totten Inlet were known as the T’Peeksin. The Squaxin Tribe was formed after the Medicine Creek Treaty from seven separate, but closely related, bands of native peoples living on seven separate inlets in southern Puget Sound.

During the cold weather season, members of each band lived in a large cedar long house in a more or less permanent village located at the sheltered end of their inlet. These were the times when members of the band lived communally, repeated their legions and stories, and instructed their children in tribal ways. During the warm weather season, families units from each band fanned out along both sides of their inlet and lived in less permanent dwellings. They harvested the bounty of the inlet and prepared for the next cold weather season. Proximity to fresh water was a prerequisite for locating a permanent cold weather village and the more numerous, transitory warm weather sites.

One of these winter village sites for the Squi-Ailt was at the archeological dig on former Secretary of State Ralph Munro’s property located on the eastern shore of Mud Bay near the southern end of Eld Inlet.

T. T. Waterman was a noted anthropologist at the University of Washington during the early years of the 20th century. He met with tribal elders in southern Puget Sound in 1910 and recorded important sites. More than 33 of these sites were noted on the Steamboat peninsula or Griffin area.

Waterman noted the abandoned site of a “large and thriving” village at the southern end of Mud Bay, a little north of the modern-day intersection of Delphi Road and MacKenzie Road. He failed to note the site of the archeological dig at Ralph Munro’s as being the site of a village, although he mentioned the three creeks on Ralph Munro’s property. Apparently, the village site mentioned by Waterman had succeeded the earlier village site at Munro’s property, although both sites were abandoned by 1910.

Perry Creek was known as “Balablts” or on the side toward the spring. It is noted as being a “large creek flowing into a cover”.

Rocky Point is also called Maple Point and was called “TsEbtsEdid” which suggests dancing place or “elderberry place”.

Young Cove was called “q!abt!o” or “abounding in food”.

Flapjack Point was noted as being prominent and was known as “qwet qs” or down-stream promontory.

Fry Cove was noted as being a very narrow cove that was known as “Tu caix” signifying an edible root that was dug by Native peoples. This may have been Camus.

Sanderson Cove was described as being a very narrow cove known as “Tu qwa’lot sid” or “fish trap at its mouth”. A weir was built across the mouth of the inlet that would trap fish when the tide receded.

Hunter Point was known as “Djie’ kclL” which means “foot”. Presumably this meant wet foot describing waves that rush up to the foot of the cliff, fall back, and then rush up again.

Sandy Point, near where the bridge to Steamboat Island is located, was known as “CxwE’ tsugEL” which suggested sharp breath.

Steamboat Island was known as “SxetElp” or “pushing off from shore”, presumably referring to the appearance of the island as though a canoe was leaving the mainland. It is fitting that one of the modern rationales for naming the island Steamboat Island is that the island resembles a steamboat.

Gallagher Cove was known as “Bicola’lala” or “a place with many cattail rushes”. Cattails were very important for weaving baskets.

The promontory at northern point at the northwest end of Gallagher Cove was known as “hwEts – toi’q – stEb” which means “sharp prodding”. This relates to the belief that a storm will be caused if anyone pokes the bottom of the inlet there with a pole or paddle.

Burns Point was known as “T!EbE’ x” which means “gooseberries”.

Copyright 2011 by Steve Lundin

Steve Lundin is a long-time resident of the Griffin community located in northwest Thurston County.  He received a B.A. degree from the University of Washington and a J.D. degree from the University of Washington Law School and is now retired as a senior counsel for the Washington State House of Representatives after nearly 30 years.

He is recognized as the local historian of the Griffin area and has written a number of articles on local history and a book entitled Griffin Area Schools, available from the Griffin Neighborhood Association at a cost of $10. 

Lundin also wrote a comprehensive reference book on local governments in Washington State entitled The Closest Governments to the People – A Complete Reference Guide to Local Government in Washington State.  The book costs $85, plus shipping and handling.  It is available on the web from the Division of Governmental Studies and Services, Washington State University, at or from WSU Extension at

Click here for more articles of interest, regarding local history.

Elizabeth Hummel benefit concert for SCP

Elizabeth Hummel Leads Local Musicians in Successful Benefit Concert


Reva Wittenberg (left) and Elizabeth Hummel, onstage at Prosperity Grange

This last Friday night marked the second annual concert to benefit the Steamboat Conservation Partnership between the Capitol Land Trust and Griffin Neighborhood Association. Area residents gathered at the Prosperity Grange to hear a live concert by musician Elizabeth Hummel with John Nasan, Reva Wittenberg, Carl Dexter and Brian Castillo. It took about all the chairs the grange supplies, plus seating on benches along the walls, to contain the audience. They heard two sets of music and intermission comments from Eric Erler, Executive Director of the Capitol Land Trust.


Event poster by Brian Castillo

The event represented a collaboration between local musicians, business, and area residents. Elizabeth Hummel, who lives on Steamboat Island, approached the Griffin Neighborhood Association with an offer to play the benefit after she learned about existence of the Partnership. Local musician Brian Castillo, who plays with Hummel, produced a truly beautiful poster for the event. Pacific Stage donated the sound and lighting for the event. Music 6000 staffed the sound board during the concert. Beer was donated by Fish Brewing Company. The Costco Warehouse in Tumwater made a cash donation to help offset the purchase of snacks. Volunteers – GNA Board members, spouses and area residents – worked to set up and then kept the supply of snacks and beverages flowing to the audience who turned out to hear the concert and to support the Steamboat Conservation Partnership.

The goal of the Steamboat Conservation Partnership is to conserve land critical to the wildlife and natural beauty of this area.

Elizabeth Hummel made a special contribution, in the form of a song especially for the Steamboat Conservation Partnership.

Visit the GriffinNeighbors YouTube channel for this and other videos.

Last year, the Griffin Neighborhood Association joined with folk band Gaelica to present the first benefit concert for the Steamboat Conservation Partnership. At that time, the Association hoped to sponsor an annual event, but had no idea as to how to attract another musical guest. It was an unexpected pleasure to be contacted by Elizabeth Hummel, for this year’s benefit. The Board of the GNA is gratified by the effort undertaken by Elizabeth and her talented fellow musicians to make the second annual concert a reality.

Interested in hearing more of Elizabeth Hummel’s music? Elizabeth Hummel “The Cauldron” and Click here for more CDs by Elizabeth Hummel

For more coverage of this event, click here to visit our Facebook page. Do you have photos or video of Friday’s concert you would like to share? “Like” us on Facebook and post them on our wall. Or, email us at


Thank you, Pacific Stage, for your support!


Thank you, Fish Brewing, for your support!


Thank you, Music 6000, for staffing the sound board during the event.

The Annual “Death to Scotch Broom” Blog Posting

Every year, around this time, all those yellow flags – those scotch broom flowers – come out to wave. Next will come the seeds and, next year, more scotch broom. There are noxious weeds and then there’s scotch broom. Now is an excellent time of year to get serious about reducing the amount of scotch broom on your property.

So, responsible rural property owners want to know: What makes scotch broom so bad?

Scotch broom is a prodigious seed producer. The seeds have hard coats enabling them to survive in the environment for up to 80 years. Once established, scotch broom forms dense brush fields over six feet tall. The brush fields diminish habitat for grazing animals, such as livestock and native animals. Areas of dense brush shade out and kill native grassland plants in invaded areas, and favor invasion by other woody, non-grassland plant species.

Scotch broom prevents reforestation, creates a high fire hazard, renders rangeland worthless and greatly increases the cost of maintenance of roads, ditches, power and telephone lines. Wildlife suffers as the growth becomes too dense for even quail and other ground birds to thrive. Being slightly toxic and unpalatable it is browsed very little by livestock.

If you cut your trees, so that a lot of sunlight reaches the ground, you’ve probably now got scotch broom to cut.

How do you eradicate scotch broom?

There are two schools of thought, those who say pull out the whole plant and those who will tell you, if you’re clever and your timing is right, all you need are a pair of lopping shears.

From the School of Pulling Out the Plant, we get these instructions:

Pull out the entire plant, including roots. When the soil is moist, small plants can be pulled easily by hand. Winter and spring are good seasons to do this.

Larger plants must be removed with a tool such as a Weed Wrench. Be sure to remove the entire plant. Broken stems re-sprout and are much harder to remove for the next person. Plants can be left where pulled.

One of the benefits of being a member of the Griffin Neighborhood Association is members can rent our Weed Wrench.

Not yet a member of the GNA? Dang, what are you waiting for?! Click here to join online.

From the School of Cutting Broom in Bloom, we get these instructions:

First, cut broom in bloom. Use loppers or small saws and cut broom right at ground level.

Broom puts all of its energy into making flowers. If you cut it while in bloom, it will most likely die in the summer’s dry heat.

If you have to make a choice, go after single plants and small infestation to prevent its spread.

If the broom is huge, cut off as many of the branches as you can. If the broom is small and not blooming, you can return and cut it next year when it blooms.

It is most important to not let the broom go to seed! Cut before June 17 (this date is from Vancouver Island’s “BroomBusters” web site, so it’s probably earlier, down here in the South Sound).

CUT DOWN ALL YELLOW FLOWERS so that they can not turn into seeds. Each scotch broom plant can produce 2,000 to 3,500 seed pods – which burst open, shooting seeds into adjacent soil. If you cut them while in bloom – no seeds!

HERBICIDES applied in the spring when new leaves are present are another effective control tool, but always remember to read the labels carefully and exercise extreme care when applying chemicals, especially near waterways.

DO NOT BURN SCOTCH BROOM! When exposed to fire, its seeds burst from their seedpods. Also, the smoke from burning scotch broom is actually toxic and may seriously irritate the respiratory tracts of you, your family, or your neighbors.

TAKE SCOTCH BROOM TO THE DUMP. The best way to get rid of scotch broom, once it is cut, is to take it to Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center.

The Thurston County Noxious Weed Control Agency offers the following information and services to the public: Educational presentations, plant identification especially those that may be noxious weeds, consults on your property, prescriptions for specific noxious weed problems and what the county approves for its own use, free disposal of designated noxious weeds at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery centers, and limited use of a manual removal tool called the wrench. Also available are many informational brochures and pamphlets as well as several videos.

So, responsible homeowner, get out there and cut your scotch broom!

Science Café – “The Magnitude 6.5 Puget Sound Earthquake of Fall 2011” – May 10

The Science Café of Olympia will meet next on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 7:00 pm.

Batdorf & Bronson Coffee House
516 Capitol Way S, Olympia WA

This month’s topic is “The Magnitude 6.5 Puget Sound Earthquake of Fall 2011 – that no one will feel.”

We are expecting a slow-slip “earthquake” next fall in western Puget Sound. While it is likely to be about a magnitude 6.5 or maybe larger, no one will feel it since it will last about three weeks instead of 20 seconds like a regular earthquake. The relatively new discovery of slow-slip earthquakes and the latest research on them and do they mean that the “big-one” is coming will be discussed. Cascadia happens to be one of the best laboratories in the world for studying this phenomenon, now called Episodic Tremor and Slip (ETS).

Our speaker is Dr. Steve Malone, Prof. Emeritus and Past Director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, Department of Earth and Space Science, University of Washington.

Date of next meeting: Tuesday, June 14, 2011. “Radiation and Health.” Dr. Al Conklin, Health Physicist, Deptartment of Health.

The Science Café of Olympia, based on the Cafés Scientifique which began in the UK, provides an informal atmosphere where people both with and without a scientific background can meet and gain a better understanding of interesting topics on science and technology After a brief presentation by an expert in the field, the meeting will be opened to discussions among everyone in attendance.

Presentations will focus on issues that impact our lives locally, nationally and internationally.