Newsletter No. 2

Dear CSA members,

We hope you had fun cooking and eating all the goods! It was wonderful to see you and meet the new additions to the Vibrant Valley Farm family.

Since we last saw you, we’ve pruned tomatoes, weeded weeds big and small, sowed over one hundred flats of flowers and tried to stay cool in this crazy heat.

The Columbia and the Willamette Rivers, along with the Willamette’s Multnomah Channel, surround Sauvie Island, helping to provide cool mornings; a big plus in this weather. The island’s location, diversity of wildlife, and rich soils has made it a great place to farm. But before any of Sauvie Island’s farms existed it was not only called many different things (everything from Multnomah Island, Sauve Island, Sauvies Island, Souvies Island, Wapato Island, Wappatoo Island to Wyeth Island), it was also home to many people and projects. 

Before explorers and settlers arrived the Multnomah tribe of the Chinook Indians lived in 15 Multnomah villages in cedar log houses about 90 feet long. They fished, hunted and gathered year round. Women harvested wappatoo, an arrowhead-leafed wild potato, in the ponds and lakes by digging into the mud with their feet. They wore animal skins and cedar bark skirts and adorned themselves with white shells. Some sources indicate the island was a meeting place for all the native tribes in the area.

Lieutenant William Broughton of the British Vancouver Expedition came to the island in 1792, naming its northern tip Warrior Point.  The Lewis and Clark expedition later visited the island and called it Wappatoe Island after the Native American word for wild potato which was roasted, dried, stored and traded to other native tribes. Here’s what Meriwether Lewis said about the island in 1806:

“Wappatoe Island is … high and extreemly fertile … with ponds which produce great quantities of the … bulb of which the natives call wappatoe … we passed several fishing camps on Wappetoe island …”

The white settlers brought diseases to Sauvie Island which quickly spread and nearly wiped out the native tribes by 1829. Attempting to rival the Hudson Bay Company in the area, American entrepreneur Nathaniel Wyeth built  a fur trapping post called Fort Williams. He failed and The Hudson Bay Company sent French-Canadian fur trapper Laurent Sauvé (hence Sauvie Island) to the island to start a dairy. By the 1840’s the Hudson Bay Company was running four dairy farms, about the same time that new residents from the East started settling on the island. A couple years later Sauvé wagons were carrying pioneers from Missouri on the Oregon Trail destined for the island. In 1891 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names finally settled the debate naming it Sauvie Island.

IN THIS WEEK’S BOX: 

  • Silky Salad Mix
  • Radishes
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Napa or Bilko Cabbage
  • Red Boar Kale
  • Chicory Greens
  • Green Garlic 
  • Parsley
  • Kolhrabi

Now there are many homes, farms and businesses on the island and visitors come to u-pick, bicycle and swim. The northern part, about 12,000 acres, is managed and owned by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and home to migrating geese and ducks as well as a permanent feeding and nesting ground for eagles, herons and sandhill cranes.

And, tucked away, right in the middle of it all, is Vibrant Valley Farm.

 

Click here for more on the history of Sauvie Island.