The first thing you see when you pull into the parking lot of Keep It Simple Farm on Avondale Road is a coop filled with clucking hens. Inside the store are heirloom seeds, organic fertilizers, and supplies for raising chickens or bees, making compost tea or growing plants hydroponically. Baby chicks, vegetable starts and organic produce are coming soon.
“People are moving toward local and sustainable food and growing their own food,” says Tad Hussey, the son of Leon and Linda Hussey, who own the land, and formerly owned Classic Nursery at this location. “What we’re trying to do is combine all these different organic and sustainable things,” Tad explains. He emphasizes the importance of healthy soil in growing healthy food, and calls it “biological horticulture.”
The new business is truly a family venture. Tad is the coordinator, and his parents, brother, 95-year-old grandfather and others are pitching in to help.
In addition to selling supplies for the urban farmer, they’re also building a greenhouse for raising tomatoes in tandem with fish, a process called aquaponics. Another greenhouse will feature plants grown in vermicompost (compost made in worm bins).
Jessi Bloom, local author of Free-Range Chicken Gardens and owner of NW Bloom EcoLogical Landscapes, is helping to design the almost 8-acre property. Tad says her plans include a “food forest”–a woodland habitat in which every plant produces edible food–and a variety of demonstration gardens.
What really makes this hard-to-classify business unique, however, is its emphasis on education. Leon Hussey says, “It’s probably going to become a learning center primarily.” They plan to offer classes, speakers and demonstrations on a variety of urban farm-related topics.
The family will also continue to offer interpretive walks along the portion of Bear Creek that runs through their property. The half-mile trail they constructed many years ago has won numerous environmental awards and is a favorite destination for local school kids who come to learn about stream ecology and watch salmon spawn in the fall.
Children’s yoga classes are currently offered on the property, and the family wants to add wilderness training opportunities. They envision a place for weddings and concerts as well.
“It’s going to be a destination location,” Leon predicts.
The Hussey family is passionate about ecology and sustainability. “We have a long history in the community for environmentalism,” Leon says. He and Linda, a Redmond native since first grade, won two King County Green Globe awards for environmental stewardship in 1996. Linda has been recognized for her years of volunteer service in Redmond.
The Husseys were one of the first families to live on English Hill. Their original home was powered by a generator.
After Leon got a degree in horticulture, he and Linda started a landscape company. They later owned Classic Nursery before founding Simplici-Tea, which makes compost tea brewers designed by Leon, a pioneer in the industry.
The Husseys bought the Keep It Simple Farm property in 2002 from the descendants of the Provan family, Avondale pioneers. “The site has cultural, historical, and environmental significance,” Leon explains. The property is featured in the book Avondale, by Ethel Provan Hebner, available at the .
Keep it Simple Farm is open for business now, and is planning a grand opening soon.