Poor Valley is real, and it can be found in Virginia’s Southwest Appalachian hills. Here in Birdsview Washington, we are not geographically connected to that place—instead Poor Valley is more of a concept—a state of mind. Poor Valley conjures a time and place in pre-industrialized North America, when people formed a bond with the land they lived and worked on—a place where folks worked with the land, not against it, and the land provided everything needed for a comfortable, sustainable life. Rich soil provided plenty of food and the woodlands supplied the materials for building sturdy long-lasting homes. This was a time in our American history when wealth wasn’t necessarily measured by finances, but by hard work and what was brought-to with one’s own hands and due diligence.
Now in these modern times, we at Poor Valley Farm and Sawmill try to strike a balance between the old and the contemporary. Creating a lifestyle and sustainable business model that remains close to the land which provides well made, handcrafted products that are superior to mass-produced industrial food and lumber.
Gardening and growing things have been a natural part of our lives since we were small children, as our heritage roots are with subsistence farmers who were immigrants to this country in the early 1900’s. We became interested in growing food for others in the late 90’s, and first farmed for market in the growing season of 2001. Inspired by the works of Wendel Berry, Eliot Coleman, Steve Solomon and Masanobu Fukuoka, we sought out ways to provide quality produce to those around us. As our farming practice grew, we were fortunate to acquaint ourselves and be educated by some incredible farmers who are some of the founders of the organic movement here in western Washington State. After farming itinerantly for several years we were able to purchase land in Birdsview, Washington where the farm was established in 2004. For a decade the farm operated under a different name, vending at weekly markets, and providing a CSA program. Currently in a transitional phase, the farm is offering wholesale produce, and direct sales.
In 2004 our interest in saw-milling and making our own building materials began soon after we purchased our land. We started out with an Alaskan style chainsaw mill, experimented with splitting cedar planks and rails, and building with round poles. In 2006 our head sawyer began a year’s apprenticeship with the inimitable Jack Knight, of Jack’s Custom Sawing. He ran Jack’s Mobile Dimension circular sawmill for over a year and learned many tricks-of-the-trade. A Logosol brand chainsaw mill was added to the farm in 2008 and a lot of lumber was cut with it, but the chainsaw mill setup was found to be inferior in many ways. In 2012, the farm purchased a customized Brand X circular sawmill and this is the saw in use at this time. It is a stationary swing type circular saw, that can also be set up with a retro-fitted Lucas brand slabbing attachment. The mill can cut logs in excess of 48” diameter, any size dimensional lumber and beams up to 36’ in length. The slabber can cut slabs up to 60” wide, any thickness, and up to 36’. Your logs or ours, we can provide the custom cut wood you need for any project.
Poor Valley Soundsystem is a loose collective of DJ’s including such luminaries as the Sanctimonious Kid, High Plains Drifter, Son Reech, and Mr. Proper. Initially inspired by the Soundsystem culture of Jamaica, and reggae music specifically, the sound soon grew to include most genres of music. The soundsystems main DJ, the Sanctimonius Kid, was host of the popular two-hour weekly radio show, Slack the Haulback, on Skagit Valley’s 90.1 KSVU for about a year. He likes to boast that during that time, he never played the same song twice. By crossing genres, linking themes, and reading the audience, the Soundsystem creates an experience that cannot be produced by any playlist, digital product, or live band. Poor Valley Soundsystem offers a hand picked, original soundtrack to any event, something people will talk about for years to come!
Here at the farm, our main tree guy got his start in the industry in the late nineties. He learned tree-climbing and aboriculture from an ISA certified arborist, and had the opportunity to climb and work with some of the best climbers in Western Washington. He was also employed for several years as a tree planter and marine bluff erosion control technician, providing native plant restoration and retaining wall construction. He is currently certified as a “C” level sawyer and faller, the highest level of chainsaw operator certification offered by the US Forest Service. We take a low-impact, holistic approach to tree care—working with the trees—not against them. We provide a wide range of tree services including large tree pruning, fruit tree and ornamental pruning, tree removal, tree planting, and the occasional cat rescue. Contact us with your tree service needs, we can do it all!!!