Friday, September 16, 2011

Summer in the Northwest: Foraging, Farming, Trekking and More

Don't let the stereotypes fool you: The Pacific Northwest can be drop-dead gorgeous come summertime.

A goat with people standing behind it
St. John Creamery and goat farm/photo courtesy Doris Piccinin

On their breaks from classes this summer, Bastyr students hiked to glaciers, collected mountain herbs, foraged for medicinal mushrooms, harvested Puget Sound seaweed, volunteered their healing skills, danced, played music and made the most of Seattle's cultural riches. How was it all? They're glad you asked. Check out their photos to the right.

Goat Farm Field Trip

Goat and studentsUndergraduate nutrition student Sophia Tasler topped off her dairy science studies with a field trip to the St. John Creamery and goat farm north of Seattle. She and other undergraduate students talked to farmers about cheese making, bringing raw milk to market, meeting food-safety regulations, forgoing antibiotics, and the peculiar dilemmas and delights of raising organic animals. "Visiting the farm at the tail end of spring was perfect," Tasler says. "We saw day-old chicks with their mama hen scurrying after them, lazy cats stretching everywhere and, best of all, baby goats." Also: "This family farm loves visitors — and volunteers!"

Seaweed Harvesting

Student in kayak with seaweedNutrition master's student Siona Sammartino helped lead seaweed-collecting trips to the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound. She taught beginners to harvest the nutrient-packed greens sustainably, dry them and work them into everyday cooking. She's been training with seaweed maestro Jennifer Adler, a nutrition faculty member, and next year Sammartino will guide her own trips. "I get to connect with the Earth and a beautiful and diverse landscape on Lopez Island," Sammartino reports. "I get to cook for others and spread the message that healthy food is meant to be enjoyed."

Herbal Medicine Foraging

Students discussing in meadowClinical health psychology and nutrition master's student Karen McCoy and 16 other students worked on Oregon herb farms, collected farm and forest plant samples, toured herbal supplement businesses and were blown away by the possibilities of herbal medicine on a weeklong trip led by Bastyr faculty Jenn Dazey, ND, RH, and Kaleb Lund, PhD. McCoy already knew herbs grew everywhere, but hiking in the mountains and spotting oxalis — which looks like a shamrock and tastes like huckleberry — was still rather cool. "The heart and passion of those who work with herbs is inspiring," she says. "It renews my interest in herbs and raises my respect for the whole industry."

You Can Drive There?

Canadian roadAmbitious naturopathic medicine student Erika Krumbeck and her husband drove to the Arctic Circle and back. You heard that right. The 5,100-mile trek from Missoula, Montana, took them through Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon. They wanted to go to the Arctic Ocean, but the road doesn't go that far. "We saw 15 black bears, one grizzly (thankfully not more), an arctic fox, a bobcat, pika, caribou, elk, moose and probably a lot of other creatures I'm missing," says Krumbeck. "It was unbelievably beautiful in a bizarre, stark, barren way."

Canada or Bust on Two Wheels

Sherman with bikeNutrition and dietetics master's student Sherman Sherman and a friend cycled from her home in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood to Victoria, B.C. — the old British Empire outpost on Vancouver Island. The run-down: eight days, six ferries, 315 miles, good weather, friendly people and beautiful scenery. "There is nothing more liberating to me than having all of the supplies I need strapped to my bicycle and allowing my legs to take me from point A to B," Sherman says. "I was surprised by how many bicycle trails there are between here and Victoria (and even beyond to Sooke). That makes it really pleasant and for a good part car-free." Bonus offer: "If anyone new to the area is interested in cycle touring (or just in cycling) and wants to pick my brain or share stories, please look me up and be in touch."

Up in the Air

Paraglider and Mt. RainierUndergraduate nutrition and dietetics student Diana Tran went paragliding in the Cascade foothills a half-hour east of campus. "Exhilarating," she says. "Being able to see Mt. Rainer and Mt. Baker simultaneously is breathtaking and magical."

River Rafting in Wine Country

Rafters on boatUndergraduate nutrition student Stephanie Gray crossed the Cascade Mountains to go rafting in Eastern Washington. The destination was the Tieton River, which flows down from the mountains into wine-sun-and-farm country. "The rapids were fun, with a good amount of waves and splashes, but still manageable for beginners," Gray reports. "It was a great end-of-summer adventure. I am definitely making it a summer tradition."

City of Glass (and Old-Growth Forests)

Vancouver skylineNaturopathic medicine student Tien Nguyen crossed the border to explore Vancouver, B.C., the shimmering glassy city three hours from Seattle. Recommended: Punjabi Market for vegetarian food; Chinatown for shops and street life; Whytecliff Park for cliff-climbing and walking across the Lions Gate Bridge for views of the Coast Mountains; the old-growth forest in Stanley Park; and the cluster of distinctive towers downtown. "It's got that lively metropolitan feel," says Nguyen. "The architecture is quite unique and easy to admire.  And there is so much nature just outside the city — mountains and lush forests right there."

Music, Vineyards, Endless Views

Amphitheatre at sunsetNaturopathic medicine student Melissa Bachman went concert-going at The Gorge Amphitheatre smack in the middle of Washington and came backing raving — as people tend to. "There's the enormous beautiful, blue Columbia River that flows throughout a canyon," she says. "There's a huge amphitheater in the middle of nowhere. The only things around are wineries and ridgelines. You camp, you go to the concert at night, and then during the day you hang out by the river, go wine tasting, sit out in the sunny weather ...." She could go on.

Urban Beats of Bumbershoot

Trombone Shorty performingAcupuncture and Oriental medicine student Gracia Tharp prefers her music festivals urban-flavored and an easy bus ride from home. Every Labor Day weekend, Seattle gets down at Bumbershoot, its three-day music celebration on the grassy expanses beneath the Space Needle. It's got headliners like Big Boi, Hall & Oates and Ray LaMontagne and local KEXP/94.9 FM heroes on the folk, hip-hop and indie stages (plus visual art, theater and comedy). "They have an eclectic collection of bands that you wouldn't really expect to like — until you hear them," says Tharp.

Local pastimes not pictured: Kayaking on Lake Washington, cheering on the Seattle Sounders FC in sold-out crowds, dancing in Belltown, dining in any neighborhood, puttering in the Bastyr Medicinal Herb Garden, strolling in St. Edward State Park next door, visiting the Seattle Opera, Seattle Symphony or Pacific Northwest Ballet, climbing, crabbing, fishing, book-browsing, coffee-roasting, chicken-raising .... We could go on.

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