Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Go Navy

Here, on Whidbey Island, people who buy real estate are given a piece of paper that warns them of the noise zones from Navy Air Station practice flying patterns. Our farm is between two major flight circles, so they don't fly over our place too much. Oak Harbor is home to the Navy community which adds quite a different feel to that community compared to the rest of the island. For half of Whidbey Island the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station is a big part of daily life, for the other half they hardly know there is a base on the island.

I went to high school in Falmouth on Cape Cod (in Massachusetts). Some of the kids from nearby Otis Air Force Base came to our school. I had a couple of good friends for a year or two, until they left with their parents to other postings. A close family friend had been in the Navy during WWII and had then pursued a career in the marine industry making ocean research equipment. I never had been on a base, nor gone to any base exchange in my life until getting to Whidbey Island.

Imagine my delight when the Navy Exchange here on Whidbey contacted the farm to see if we'd sell our products there. "Sure" I wrote back, and "no, we don't have minimums, but we also might not be able to completly fill orders, either, if they are too big." After sending in reams of paperwork, the local buyer forwarded it on to the national office, and they asked if we'd be willing to sell to other bases. "Sure" I wrote back....

That started a stream of weekly orders that have taken over our staff. We make a lot of different products right here on the farm. This new, huge, customer wanted as much in a month as we sell in a year of some of the items. Happily, we all pitched in and filled the orders and shipped them off, learning how to work with the system on the way. Our friends here on the island are glad to hear that they will be able to get our products when they relocate to Sigonella or other bases that we sell to.

As you can see, we collapsed after getting the boxes ready for one week's orders (you can't see all of them in this picture, but you get the idea).

Rick and I are also Waste Wise Volunteers. That means we help folks on the island with recycling and composting information. WI-NAS (Whidbey Island Naval Air Station) has the premier recycling center in the nation. The program has grown over the years I've been on Whidbey to include food waste recycling. That task is significant because of the health and pest concerns in managing it, as well as the large volume of material that is now kept out of the landfill. We, in the recycling community, are very proud of the Navy's efforts.

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