The Human/Nature Connection: Bounty

Across Washington, nature nourishes. We draw from the earth and its oceans for sustenance—to feed lives and livelihoods. However we enjoy our state’s vast bounty, we share a responsibility to respect and steward these resources.

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Apples are the vibrant hearts of Washington’s harvest. World-renowned and unsurpassed, Washington apples fuel an economic engine and support entire communities, within and beyond our borders. Thousands of workers, the majority skilled migrants who return each season, pick every Washington apple by hand. The harvest is demanding yet delicate: Early mornings, firm grasps, quick twists, and the daylong, gentle pour of full bags into pallet upon pallet.

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Reefnets stretch across swathes of sea in Puget Sound. When a lookout spies a salmon school, fishermen and women furiously launch into action, haul in hundreds, shift them to underwater pens and return bycatch to an intricate food web. Once the captured salmon settle, ice awaits to preserve their fresh flavor. This ancient method mirrors the sustainable fishing tradition of Salish tribes, which honor the salmon and its central role in culture, food and society.

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 A pea patch in Seattle welcomes gardeners at the end of another workday. Green sanctuary and fresh vegetables await at UpGarden in the heart of the big city, seeding community alongside heirloom varieties. Several plots also grow food for donation, to share sustenance across neighborhoods.

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Father and son stomp Pacific coast sand to hunt razor clams on a cold, December day.  A crowd takes to the beach armed with clam guns and shovels to trap sunken treasures. Some can already taste them: butter poached or lightly sautéed. They must dig deep to emerge the victor, foraging food and living a Washington tradition deliciously.

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 Agriculture yields community in the Methow Valley, where a pig farm houses a neighbor’s cattle in return for gentle mowing of the fields. Tamworth hogs munch a morning apple treat, while goats softly bray a few acres over. Across the forest, a new generation of Guernsey kids greet their keeper, and matriarchs share their milk. For a small farm there is space enough for pasture among the pines. Happy goats yield stellar cheese.

Thousands of years of culture intersect with crowds and cars as the Makah Tribe in Neah Bay convenes a family reunion every August. The tribe welcomes back far-flung members and honors tribal veterans, inviting all of Washington to celebrate. Generations of tribal members mingle with visitors from across the region to enjoy salmon smoked on the beach as the age-old scent of cedarwood fire drifts through the air.