Garden On, Vashon

Gardening, cooking, building, designing, dreaming…

  • Comments

The new “INGENUITY” Tour! on Saturday, Sept. 22

September 11th, 2012 at Tue, 11th, 2012 at 2:48 pm by Karen Dale

I’ve always thought autumn would be a great time for another Island tour, and now one’s here—the “INGENUITY TOUR” on Saturday, September 22 from 10am – 3pm.

Think of it as your chance to drive around and see some of those Clever Ideas you once read about in the Whole Earth Catalog.

Organizer Susie Kalhorn describes it thus: “The concept of the tour is share creative ideas to simplify our lives, save money, and conserve resources. The ideas fall into three general categories: food security, energy conservation, and water conservation. Unlike the garden tour, not all of the sites are “pretty” in the traditional sense, but they do offer a lot of Island Funktionality!”

“We’ll have a booth at the Farmers Market where folks can pick up maps, but we’re hoping that we can direct them to our co-sponsors’ websites beforehand so they can download their own maps.  The cosponsors are: Transition Vashon, WisEnergy, Island GreenTech, Sustainable Vashon, and Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union.” (As of today, only Island GreenTech had the pdf available to downoad: click on its blue link above.)
The tour will let you visit 16 different Islanders that are doing intriguing, interesting, INGENIOUS things on their properties. Alternative energy solutions like heat pumps, geo-thermal systems, biomass cookstoves, a DYI Russian Stove, and possibly the Island’s oldest solar panels. Food sustainability efforts like artisan brewing, chicken ranching, solar food dryer and cooker, and two community gardens. Ingenuous ways to capture, keep, and distribute water, such as cisterns, drip systems, retention ponds, green roofs. Composting toilets, sustainable timber harvesting, and possibly some electrical vehicles. All within an Island drive.

You can meet some rather cool folks, too, such as craft brewer Cliff Goodman, Tag Gornall who helped Vashon Theatre get its new digital projection system, Michael Laurie who is an expert on water systems of all kinds and co-wrote (with Susie Kalhorn) those Pesticide Hang-tags seen in True Value a few winter’s back, and Roger Sherman, grandson of the first white settlers on Vashon who still lives on the family homestead. And if you’ve been impressed by the BURN Design Lab’s efforts to save the world with a smaller, cheaper, carbon-efficient cookstove, here’s your chance to see their work first hand.

Maps and descriptions of the tour will be available at the Ingenuity Tour’s table at the Saturday Market, so that’s a good starting point. And one of the sponsors, Island GreenTech, already has the map loaded: download it by clicking here: Island GreenTech.

And since you’re more likely to be teased by details than by my generalized description, here’s EXACTLY what you’ll see at each site  (thanks to Susie Kalhorn and all the site hosts for the write-ups.)

Island Ingenuity Tour Sites


1. Michael Laurie Home and Garden13470 108th SW. In my garden you can see: four different drip irrigation systems, two of which utilize rainwater; rain gardens; native plant restoration; medicinal plants; and a Pesticide Free Zone Garden. You can also see: a green roof; indoor/outdoor water-saving equipment; a composting toilet; a ductless mini-split heat pump and other energy-saving equipment. Michael Laurie

2. Linda and Gary Peterson Home: 15305 Vashon Highway SW. We believe we have the oldest functioning passive solar home (1981) on Vashon-Maury Island. The house design utilizes a Trombe wall with water as the heat storage medium. 30 years later it’s still working and is trouble free!  We have a low-tech, yet productive garden that uses recycled material to help with weed control and moisture retention. In addition, we have employed galvanized nails to ward off root maggots in green crops. During the winter months our chickens are free ranged in sections of the garden to promote weed and slug control. In its first season our small green house produced tomatoes from August through January and salad greens and cauliflower from March through May. Gary Peterson

*3. Vashon Community Care Gardens15333 Vashon Highway SW. Visit the raised bed garden by entering the facility on the main highway side and continuing straight into the dining hall. The garden is visible through the glass doors adjoining the dining hall. The raised beds were designed for residents in walkers and wheelchairs and the plantings reflect their favorite edibles. Find the large vegetable garden north of the building and east of the retention pond. The goal is to grow food for the residents once procedures and standards are in place. Currently the food is grown for the hard-working staff. Community volunteers are eagerly welcomed to work and enjoy the harvest of this garden. Julia Lakey

 4. Tag Gornall Home8720 SW Dilworth Road. I have an energy efficient geothermal heating system, on-demand propane water heater, and three holding ponds for rain water and surface water catchment which attract a lot of wildlife. Savings in electric bills pay for the geothermal system in eight years. An electric car may be on scene, too.Tag Gornall

5. Alex and Irene Tokar Home: 11509 Cove Road. Our older home was cold and drafty. Kris Pedrin installed a new ground source heat pump which also heats our water. Greg Kruse weatherized the house installing insulation in a knee-wall, under the floors in the crawl space, and in the attic. The cost of heating the house has decreased 60% to 70% and it’s a comfy 67 degrees all winter!  Alex and Irene Tokar

 6. Lotus and Barb Smith Home and Garden17310 97th Place SW. In the 1970s I dreamed of participating in a totally self-sufficient rural community. Now I find myself with a level, sunny ¼ acre!  Bliss. Instead of total self-sufficiency, I am working toward food independence, cheaply. I am learning and inventing as I go, which has lead to some very humorous and functional creations. You’ll see my solar food dryer, infiltration trenches that help retain water for the dry months, various ways of capturing rainwater, a flow-through composting unit, fruit and vegetables, chickens, and more. Please come visit. I’d love to talk to others. Lotus

 7. VASHON FARMERS MARKET ISLAND INGENUITY BOOTH: 17505 Vashon Highway SW. Pick Up Tour Information Here. The Island Ingenuity and Food Security booth(s) will feature designs within the ability of the average builder/tinkerer which can be constructed from readily available materials. You’ll see designs and/or exhibits of items I or other Islanders have built such as: a home-made solar water heating system; a solar oven; low-tech clothes washing; a produce storage bin that even keeps leafy greens fresh; easy storage of root vegetables; information about building a DIY Russian stove and a gravity feed water supply; and home grown emergency packets. Terry Sullivan

8. Roger Sherman Home: 17423 100th Avenue SW. I am raising chickens and rabbits for meat and make an aerobic compost tea to help boost garden productivity. I sell chicks which pays for the chicken and rabbit food and rarely buy meat at the store. Roger Sherman

 9. Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union: 9922 SW Bank Road. You can see what our newly installed energy efficient ductless heat pump looks like. It helps warm our offices in the winter and keeps them cool during the summer. We offer low interest loans for energy efficient projects. Come early because we close at 2PM on Saturdays.Patte Wagner

*10. Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust Building Solar Array10014 SW Bank Road. The solar array atop our building was installed in 2009 as a Solar Initiative pilot project donated by Sustainable Vashon and made possible through a grant from Puget Sound Energy. Read about it on an interpretive sign and check out the meter showing the cumulative wattage produced by the array over its life thus far. During summer months the energy generated, which exceeds our usage, is contributed back into PSE’s power grid. Beth Bordner

 11. Vashon Forest Stewards MillSW 188th and 103rd Ave SW. Visitors to the Forest Stewards mill yard will see piles of logs that come from ecological thinnings of island forests and from hazard tree removal. These logs are milled into rough sawn green lumber, then kiln dried into stable boards and finally processed through a molder/shaper into finished lumber. You will see stacks of lumber at various stages of this processing cycle. Our finished lumber is stored in a warehouse down the road. David Warren

 12. Burn Design Lab: 18850 103rd Ave SW, Suite 101. BURN Design Lab is a Vashon-based non-profit organization whose mission is to save lives and forests in the developing world through the design and local production of clean burning cookstoves. BURN designs customized biomass stoves to meet the diverse cooking needs of the developing world. Please visit the lab to learn about our design process and light up a few stoves! Peter Scott

*13. Chautauqua Kids Garden9329 SW Cemetery Road (on south side of the school).The Chautauqua Kid’s Garden is hands-on learning at its best. The garden was constructed with the help of many community members and it allows children to give back to their community through hard work and cooperation. Their pumpkin sale is a highlight of the year, as are the discussions around who we will help with the sale proceeds. In the garden you will find: a water catchment system; solar powered irrigation; mason bee hives; a mosaic sundial; shed doors with mosaic panels that depict crop rotation; and an adjoining native plant garden. Come see the garden as through the eyes of a child…….amazing! Gerie Wilson

 14. Duane Dietz and Patricia Kane Garden: 8715 SW Cemetery Road. We built the 800 gallon cistern (using a new concrete sewer vault) to capture the roof runoff from our barn in order to minimize the use of District 19 water in the vegetable garden. We have found that the water is warmed during the summer and is more readily taken up by the soil. We use it as a passive gravity-fed system, but we have the capability to use a submersible pump for those times we want to use a sprinkler. Duane Dietz

15. Cliff Goodman Garden and Brewery: 10124 SW Quartermaster Drive. The projects on my site have been created with Permaculture design principles in mind. You’ll see a variety of gardening experiments geared towards building richer soil and retaining winter rains in the soil and in above-ground rainwater storage for use in the summer. Other garden experiments are designed to modify my microclimate for growing a wider variety of crops than I normally could, and growing some year round. I will also show you my efforts to run a small home occupation (commercial brewery) using minimal natural resources, a neighborhood electric vehicle and complete recycling of the production byproducts. Cliff Goodman

 16. Don Canfield and Linda Mather Home: 21402 Westside Highway SW. We recently developed a farm plan for our horse property. We want to contain animal waste; minimize impact on ground water, while increasing health of pasture grass; minimize rain run-off, thus maximizing ground water recharge. The technical assistance offered by the King Conservation District (KCD) has been invaluable. Our farm plan helped us obtain cost sharing from King County and the KCD to help pay for such things as cross fencing and manure bins. Some of our property is forested and a forest plan has helped save on property taxes through the Public Benefits Rating System. Don Canfield

*There will be no tour representatives at Vashon Community Care, the Land Trust building, and Chautauqua School; they are self-guided sites.



gardens on the south end of Vashon Island, on a sandy hilltop overlooking Quartermaster Harbor. "Garden On, Vashon" shares what the Island has to teach us about gardening HERE—from making soils to sowing seeds to raising plants to harvest, cooking, preserving, and designing new ways to cultivate your little chunk of Vashon Island. To contact me, email, or leave a comment.

More articles by  >
ABOUT COMMUNITY BLOGS: Community blogs are written by volunteers. They are members of our community but not employees of this site or newspaper. They have applied or were invited to blog here but their words are their own and are not edited by the editor or staff of this site, and have agreed to abide by our Terms of Use. The authors are solely responsible for their content. If you have concerns about something you read on a community blog, please contact the author directly or email us.

COMMENTING RULES: We encourage an open exchange of ideas in the community, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. In a nutshell, don't say anything you wouldn't want your mother to read.

So keep your comments:

  • Civil
  • Smart
  • On-topic
  • Free of profanity

We ask that all participants own their words by logging in with their Facebook account. It's a simple process that will take seconds and helps keep our comments free of trolls, cranks, and “drive-by” commenters. We reserve the right to remove comments from anyone using screen names, pseudonyms or false identities. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.