Keep It Simple, Inc: A one-stop urban farmer's oasis
June 14, 2012 · Updated 12:02 PM
A handful of colorful clucking hens and two Giant Flemish rabbits greet visitors as they explore the new happenings at Keep It Simple (KIS) Inc. on Avondale Road, just outside Redmond city limits.
Baby chicks' chirps echo throughout the new store, which is filled with organic fertilizers, bird seed and feeders, supplies for raising chickens and bees, along with equipment and ingredients for growing plants hydroponically and making compost tea.
But this new business venture is much more than just a feed and seed store with a few farm-animal attractions.
The nearly eight-acre site of the former Classic Nursery is getting a farmer's-market makeover by the well-known Hussey family with design help from local writer and permaculture landscaper Jessi Bloom. In addition, another permaculture expert, Dave Boehnlein of Terra Phoenix Design, will be part of the property's master plan design team.
Once complete, the one-stop farm site will provide a wide range of permaculture products, do-it-yourself practices and environmental education for sustainable urban farming. As the store grows, it will carry fresh eggs, organic produce and vegetables and other organic products.
"We are trying to create an educational facility that is going to implore organic and sustainable gardening," said Tad Hussey, the farm's manager and son of Leon and Linda Hussey, who have owned the land since 2002 and formerly owned Classic Nursery and Landscape Co. "We want to help people grow their own food and create their own sustainable lifestyle."
The KIS Farm is 34-year-old Tad's brainchild, but is also an expansion of the Hussey family tea-composting business, which began in 2002 at Leon and Linda's farm on English Hill.
Tad said the top priority of KIS is to educate people on the latest urban farming techniques.
"It's not so much about shopping, it's about getting a chance to see all the different plants and animals," Tad said. "If people want to do any of the things that we are doing, then I want to have products that support that."
The property is still being designed and developed, but a soft grand opening will be Father's Day, Sunday, June 17 at 12526 Avondale Rd. N.E.Bloom, author of "Free-Range Chicken Gardens" and owner of N.W. Bloom Ecological Landscapes, is helping with the property's design and will be on hand from noon to 2 p.m. signing her book and meeting with urban farming enthusiasts.
Bloom said the property design will include 25 different demonstration gardens and a "food forest," a series of gardens in which every plant produces edible food.
The site will also have a fenced-off area with free-range animals such as chickens, ducks and rabbits, along with raised garden beds. The fenced-off area will "show you can have chickens in a garden setting," Bloom said. "Let the animals do the work."
There will also be all kinds of plants for sale to "help build your soil," Bloom said, adding that she wants to showcase plants that are beneficial to people's health and the ecosystem and not just aesthetically pleasing.
One of the two large green houses on site will be used for classes and demonstrations about a variety of sustainable living-related topics. The other green house will be used to grow organic tomatoes and house an aquaculture operation, where fish and plants are grown together in the same containers.
Tad said a smaller third greenhouse, featuring a composting station using worms — called vermicomposting — will be built by the kids' play area.
In addition, Tad set up two bee hives that will help with plant and flower pollination throughout the property. Outdoor children's yoga classes are currently being offered at the property and Tad said he hopes the site will be destination location for weddings and concerts. He also has plans of opening a coffeehouse sometime in the future.
While big changes are in the mix at the property, Leon Hussey will continue to operate his nonprofit Redmond Organization of Shared Environments (ROSE), which offers interpretive nature walks for local students along a 3/4-mile trail that runs along Bear Creek in the back of the property.
Each year, ROSE volunteers guide hundreds of students who come to learn about stream ecology and salmon spawning.
In addition, Leon will continue to offer brewers for compost tea, which is used to replace the biology in the soil like vitamins for plants, often strengthening a plant to ward off diseases, Leon said.
The new KIS design will complement the nature trail in the back of the property and provide a farmer's-market feel to the property.
"A lot of what you see during the Redmond Saturday Market, we will have here during the week," said Leon. "It's going to be an extension of getting the safe food that is locally grown, which is a big deal."
KIS is now open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, call (425) 558-0990 or visit www.kisfarm.com.