Our farm is east of Battle Ground in the sleepy village of Venersborg in the Cascade foothills. We have three commercial buildings in our town: a tiny general store, the two room church and the one-room schoolhouse that’s on the national & Washington Historic Registers. The 1912 schoolhouse is the oldest continuously operating community building in Washington. For the past two years I’ve been president of the local community club. Once I didn’t show up for a meeting and — surprise-surprise — I got a phone call telling me I was the new prez. That’s how it works here.
The median age of our members is, I’d guess, about 78. I think there are three of us who are under 60. I may be exaggerating a little but not much. (In case any of our members are reading this, of course there’s not a one of them who looks her age. Country living can be either marvelously kind or sunburntly unforgiving and she’s been kind to our group.)
This little building is heated with a hundred year old giant woodstove and we use outhouses when nature calls. Which brings me to why I’m writing this.
These ladies are getting on in years and the outhouse is a problem for many of them. You’d know what I mean if you, as I have, handed an 83 year old lady a flashlight so she could take her walker and trundle up the path in the woods in the rain in February to use the loo. Quite a few of them say they can’t come to the meetings anymore because they can’t easily use the outhouse. Or, worse, they don’t drink anything for half the day before they come so they won’t have to use the outhouse which certainly isn’t healthy.
They’ve wanted a bathroom in the building since probably before I was born. I am determined this year to get a bathroom (small sink, low flow flush toilet, that’s it) put in.
Over the past ten years these ladies have raised a few hundred dollars each year raffling off handmade quilts and afghans, hosting baked goods auctions, running a tiny annual yard sale, ice cream socials and craft days. That money took care of upkeep on the little building and the rest went into savings.
They let boy scouts, the cemetery commission and local people have meetings and get-togethers here for no charge, although many folks do make a small donation. The money raised was enough to get the permits, perc pits dug and a simple septic system designed. At this rate they need to do this for another dozen years and I wonder how many of them will be around then.
Right now we have donations of materials and labor from local folks to build the bathroom. We need about $6000 more to pay the septic installer and a few other bills and we should be able to get the job finished. Up until now all our events have been local but with the apple event, we’re reaching outside of town for support.
On Saturday Oct. 18 from 11-4 our farm is co-hosting an heirloom apple tasting at the schoolhouse to raise funds toward the bathroom. We’ll have 200 different kinds of apples to taste, luscious pies to eat, unsprayed apples to buy. Choose which apples sing to your taste buds and we’ll make trees of those types to plant in your yard. The generous folks from the Home Orchard Society will be on hand to help identify apples and, hopefully, to find some rare ones among what gets brought in. Last year we learned one of our old farm trees was so rare it was thought to be extinct and now is rediscovered!
First I want to invite you to come out to the schoolhouse for our apple event. Bring friends. Eat pie. Munch on red-fleshed apples or purple skinned ones or apples that taste like pineapple. We’ll have kinds you can’t even imagine.
Below left, Kandil Sinap. Right, Duchess of Oldenburg (from the 1600s)
On left, the red-fleshed Russian Crab (a BIG apple). Right, the sweet Swedish Make.
While the ladies have volunteered to help out, I think the energy required may plumb tucker them out so I’m also putting out a call for some helpers.
Admission is $5, kids are $3 (under 6 free) and volunteers can eat as many apples as they like. I’m not going to let the ladies price the cookies this time though. At our tag sale in September they each baked a few dozen cookies and then priced them a quarter each because they were so concerned that someone might not be able to afford one. I would have charged a dollar for the whompin’ handful of still warm made-from-scratch brownie and given a free one to anyone who looked quarter-challenged and hungry. I keep reminding them that this is a fundraiser and it’s okay to charge a few dollars for a slice of homebaked apple pie like the one our neighbors Scott and Brenda (and son Kyle) are making here …
or the pies our sweet farmgirl helpers from Dee Creek made.
If you want to help slice and handout apples you’re welcome to pitch in. You’ll learn all kinds of things about heirloom apples, or you can slice pie, pour cider, sell buckets of fresh apples or take tree orders. It all helps. If you want to volunteer, give us a call 360-687-8384.
If you’d like to munch 200 apples and contribute a few dollars to the town’s flush fund, we’re glad to have you! The schoolhouse is located at
24317 N.E. 209th St. in Battle Ground, WA, a pleasant country drive about a half hour north of Portland, OR.
Jacqueline & Joseph
Friendly Haven Rise Farm
“Where Spirit and Nature Meet”