We talk a lot about terroir and how the salty island breezes create their own kind of fruit alchemy – about why the San Juan Islands, and the people who call it home, are the backbone of our business. But it's hard to fully convey what we mean unless you've been here – and have felt that sense of coming together (Saturdays at the market, a farm dinner al fresco), the inspiration from our common rootedness (plucking fruit from the old orchards to share at a picnic), and the wildness all around us (dipping your toes or diving into the sea). This place, these people, sustain us and keep us thriving.
Girl Meets Dirt was born of the land. Grew limbs through storms, gained strength with rain, knowledge with history, rootedness with dirt under her fingernails. Seedlings rose, and bore fruit. And she watched, curious & hungry, and learned the art of stretching bounty into winter. This is where the story ends (it always ends) but begins anew – with worn muddy boots and kitchen clogs – a journey in steps, stems, pear seeds, plum pits, and apple flesh. A journey to the fruit of the matter & back, on one island farmette.
My mother named me “Audra” after Linda Evans’ bold character, Audra Barkley, on the American TV Western The Big Valley. Her prescience is impressive. Just shy of 10 years in Manhattan, I walked away from a Wall Street career and convenient city life with a new husband and two dogs to head West, and start our own (island) Western story. Life in a farmhouse down a one lane Orcas Island road hasn't been all primroses. With spring comes rain – and in some seasons, lots of it. At some point, the rains yield, and the glorious rain shadow sun feeds fields full of poppies. Bright red, the seeds a blessing from my grandmother's meticulous seed saving hands, now sown haphazardly by mine, earth polished, with the wind doing the rest; they sing of the bounty yet to come.
I’ve watched a lot of things grow – and subsequently die back. It’s made the pain of growing up and older and the challenges of starting a family, of which we've had many, more palatable. But the fruit keeps coming back, year after year. The sweetness has brought untold joy. After the poppies, the buds, and blooms, comes Fall, and with it an abundance of stone-fruit and pomes. King apples, Bartlett pears, Italian plums, and several varieties of quinces – many from trees harvested for over one hundred years – fill the markets, our baskets and bellies. And I smile, deeply, as I begin to peel, core, and chop. The rhythm of the seasons and life – I’ll gladly ride for a hot copper pot jammed with island fruit and sugar.