Early this month, I watched the news coverage of the terrible floods in southwest Washington, and was immediately concerned about the huge areas of farmland that were being flooded, and the farmers and food producers who would be devastated.

The next day, Laura Faley, of Hidden Meadow Ranch in Mount Vernon, forwarded a message to me, telling the story of loss at the Black Sheep Creamery and the Gregory family. As Laura said to me, "this is a tragic loss, and shows how close to the financial edge small producers are. It is the years' work that cannot be restored -- the selective breeding, and the aging of cheese, and, of course, the financial losses are devastating."

I immediately circulated their story to a short list of friends, so that they could pass the information on to others. I discovered that the Gregorys were posting their story, day to day, on their website,  Go there, and click on "Musings 12-2007" then scroll down to the bottom to read the story, beginning December 5.

We all know that this story is representative of the trauma and loss suffered by food producers throughout the region. Their problems will not be solved by the next sunny day, or by the generous work of their friends during the first days after the flood. The flood waters recede, leaving dead animals, destroyed homes, and fields buried in toxic mud.

So, thanks to my friends sending me helpful messages, I've been collecting information to share with you, about how you can help our farming friends in the flooded areas. If you can't help, please pass this message along to others. This disaster could just as easily have happened here. The farmers needing help could have been our friends, if the storm had taken a slightly different track, so that the Olympic Mountains couldn't protect us.

I will offer you a variety of options for donations, including the Tilth Producers of Washington, representing organic and sustainable farmers, the Olympia Farmers Market, supporting many of the food producers in the flooded region, and the Adna Grange, feeding the community 24 hours a day. First, I will tell you how to help the Black Sheep Creamery.

The Regional Governors of Slow Food have set up a fund for the Gregory family at the Black Sheep Creamery. Our representative, Gerry Warren, writes, "Black Sheep Creamery, an artisan cheese producer near Chehalis, lost 2/3 of its flock, some of their cheese in process, and had their farm and lands devastated in the recent flooding. I have suggested that BSC be the recipient of our donations because they are a farm family who, as an artisan producer, are closely aligned with Slow Food principles, and because our donations can have a direct impact on their recovery.... Since we do not have a regional bank account, I have asked the treasurer and board of Slow Food Seattle if we can use their account as a repository for this fund. We will accumulate personal and Convivium donations until January 30th, at which time I will forward the money to the farm, with full disclosure of the donors who participated.... Collectively, we can make a small but significant difference. Please make convivium and personal donations, which can be tax deductable, payable to Slow Food Seattle/Flood Relief. Mail to Gerry Warren, SF Regional Governor, 4825 Stanford Ave., N.E., Seattle, WA 98105. Please include an email address to which a receipt can be sent."

Our convivium will join other Slow Food convivia in the region, by sending a donation to this fund.

Many other farmers also need our help. A comprehensive list of organizations collecting relief funds for farmers, sent to me by Crystine Goldberg of Uprising Organics, can be found at  Tilth Producers of Washington has updated information and a discussion board at To help organic and sustainable farmers within the Tilth Producers community, send checks to Tilth Producers of Washington Farm Relief Fund, P.O. Box 85056, Seattle, WA 98145, or donate online at the above website. To support the farmers and food producers who sell at the Olympia Farmers Market, such as the goat cheese farm mentioned in the recent Skagit Valley Herald article, go to, to donate online, or mail to 700 Capitol Way South, Olympia, WA 98501.

The Southern Washington Flood Relief 2007 blog (address above), says, "Many farmers in southwest Washington State just lost everything they owned in one of the most devastating floods this area has seen. The farms are dealing with immense losses. Along with the monumental task of cleaning up the mud (which is now toxic), ruined machinery, dead animals, damaged homes, barns and production facilities, they are contending with lost income, debt, housing, and starting all over again."

"Both Bellingham and Olympia Food Coops are accepting donations at all Co-Op registers. Donations will be directed to the Olympia Food Co-Op Farm Relief Fund, set up to help organic and sustainable farms affected by the flooding." (Our Skagit Valley Food Co-Op also has donation containers at their registers.)

"What is most needed right now is money to buy necessities, as well as OLD clothes, towels, power tools, lumber, extension cords, gloves, boots, respirators, etc....the clean up is immense."

For a complete list of funds, go to the website/blog (address above). The top 3 funds suggested there are, the Olympia Farmers Market, Tilth Producers, (both listed above) and the Adna Grange (Karen Kerr). Adna Grange offers "direct assistance and food for Adna area farms and families (not limited to farms).... The Adna Grange is serving food 24hrs/day. Cash donations will go towards both food and to those in need directly. Cash is needed for basic things like diesel, to run generators, and loads of gravel to access houses, barns, etc. Mail donations to P.O. Box 63, Adna, WA 98522, or simply call Karen's cell, which is strapped to her body! 360-807-9282."

I know I've included a lot of information in this message. I hope I've made it easy for you to find one place to send some money, or easy for you to learn more about this terrible situation, and help in a variety of ways. If you follow up by reading the Black Sheep Creamery website, or the list on the Flood Relief blog, you will find many ways to offer your services and time, as well as money.

If you want to read more, please continue below, and read the latest Black Sheep Creamery update I've received, through Rhonda Gothberg of Gothberg Farms, and Joan R. DeVries, the WSU Livestock Advisor Program Assistant at WSU Skagit County Extension, from Gretchen Wilson, who has been a tireless supporter and organizer for the Gregory family. This message is an example of where things stand for many farmers just beginning their recovery.

Whether you send a check to the Slow Food Flood Relief fund for BSC, donate to one of the farmers assistance groups I've mentioned, line up a car pool and a work party and dive in to help with the muck, or simply pass this message on to someone more able to help than you, we at Slow Food appreciate your interest and concern for our food producing neighbors. Thank you.

Carol Havens

Slow Food Skagit River Salish Sea


Forwarded message follows:

Great Thanks to ALL of you for the overwhelming support you have shown the Gregory family during this ongoing time of crisis.

One of my favorite verses is "Let us not grow weary of doing good". I confess that I have been a little weary of phone calls and emails lately--but as I talked with Brad on the phone today, I heard what true weariness sounds like. The volunteers are dwindling, the mess is still overwhelming. The decisions never stop coming.

For those who want to help, they still need LOTS of it. The rental house they own still has wet insulation needing pulling, there is still much to be done in that house as soon as possible before the mold overwhelms it. Lots of sheds, fences, buildings are yet to clear as well.

Meg is doing a great daily update on their website's "musings" page. I encourage you to read it.

If you can go there and help they are happy to have you. Take I-5 south to Chehalis. At the 2nd Chehalis exit take hiway 6 west. Follow it for about 8 miles to Adna. At Adna, turn right onto Bunker Creek Rd. Follow this for about 2 miles to their farm on the left. Big hip roof barn and tall

old white farmhouse. 345 Bunker Cr Rd.

If you want to ask Brad of specific things to bring you can call him on his cell at 360-520-3397.

Otherwise bring your lunch, change of clothes, muck boots, work gloves, surgical gloves as liners, warm clothes you can get filthy, basic tools, shovel.

Try to keep your calls at night. Email and calls are welcome but realize Meg and Brad don't have a lot of time for communicating right now. If you go, maybe bringing a soup pot for lots of people would be a nice way to help.

For those who wish to donate money to the Gregories: We have spent much time trying to set up an assistance fund and it seems the simplest way to get money to them is to just send it to them!!

The website and paypal options all cost money, the banks have lots of legal rules about assistance funds. SO-- please do help them financially if you wish to.

Below is a partial list of costs of things they will need in the next year as they rebuild.

Shipping for donated ewes: $500.00

Milk: $2000.00 per pallet; $1.00 per pound

Hay:$12.00 per bale

Grain:$10.00 bag

Ewes:$300.00 each

This is just a beginning of things to replace. There will be much, much more. Plus living expenses.

To send a check to the Gregories: Make checks out to Brad or Meg Gregory

Mail to: BlackSheep Creamery, PO 293, Adna, WA 98522-0293

For those who wish to give a gift certificate at a feed store: There is a feed store in Chehalis called "The Farm Store" and also a "Del's".

Thanks to those who have sent checks already, Alexia, Rhonda, Ann. And the gift certificate to the local feed store, Amy. Thanks to Morning Star Lutheran in Monroe for the love offering.

Also to Kathi Cooley for the Christmas gifts for the kids! And to Carla and Eliza and Heifer International team for the boots and work last week.

Thanks especially to the MANY of you who have offered stock. Brad is taking one offer of some ewes soon, since the donor needed to send them soon. BUT--for the most part they really don't know how fast things will come together at the farm. The fields all have up to a foot of silt; and no one knows when the grass will be useable. It seems they will have room for most of the donated stock in the summer. So for most of you who have offered spring ewe lambs that should work out well. Brad will be in touch with you this winter.

Thanks to the Snohomish Winter School for donating this January's raffle to the Gregories as well.

I know there are many others I have forgotten or not known and you are very appreciated as well.

God Bless you all and Merry Christmas!!

Gretchen Wilson