Team Gray Sky Growers throws a spectacular salmon-and-shellfish feast

Based in Olympia, Washington, the Gray Sky Growers are six families united under a common purpose: to win Sunset's One-Block Party contest....


Based in Olympia, Washington, the Gray Sky Growers are six families united under a common purpose: to win Sunset’s One-Block Party contest. And, of course, to have a great time. Being in a cool climate, they’ve mixed cool-weather crops like kale and kohlrabi with the warm-weather plants like berries. This is their final posting, describing their lavish salmon-and-shellfish feast on September 5.

Photo: Steven Herppich Photography

Sunset had the notion, with this contest, that given a wee bit of guidance, many, many people could make this idea work: produce what you can, where you are; find most everything else as locally as possible; and be mindful of what else you choose to consume.

We entered the contest because we thought that if we had a creative spirit, a sense for adventure, and a desire to share in community connection, we truly could feed ourselves and those around us. What is more, we could nurture life, be willing to risk, develop resilience through failure, and build connections within our community that would last long past the moment when the feast ended and we walked inside our homes and locked the doors.

As the evening breeze picked up, the coffee’s aroma, heat, and flavor anchored us to our seats, and we didn’t want the day to end. Yet this was but one sunset feast. Perhaps success will be measured by the many feasts to come, and the continuing connections made. To this, we toast.


Blackberry Stout
Strawberry Lemon Verbena Punch
House Chamomile Lavender Mint Iced Tea with Olympia Artesian Well Water
Roasted Sunflower Seeds
Caramelized Oly-Oly Onions
Garlicky Roasted Eggplant Dip


Petite Summer Herb Tomato Quiches
Witbier-Steamed Manila Clams
Butter, Buttermilk Rolls, and Focaccia
Hazelnut Pesto Green beans
Pacific Oysters on the Half Shell served on a bed of Kale
Mixed Green Salad with Handcrafted Raspberry Vinaigrette
Gray Sky Tomato Salad
Cascadian “Zucchini” Canoes with Oven-Dried Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella
Grilled Wild Salmon with Horseradish Parsley Sauce or Raspberry Rosemary Sauce


Blackberry Galette with Fairhaven Flour Wheat Crust and Honey Lavender Ricotta
Northwest Berry Sorbet
Raspberry Popsicles
Batdorf and Bronson Gray Sky Growers Custom-made Blue Sky Blend French Press Coffee


Katie Stoll’s Hazelnut Pesto Green Beans

We chose hazelnuts because the trees grow like weeds here. These particular nuts, although local, weren’t ours, however. We have a large tree outside our kitchen window that produces lots of nuts, but the squirrels start carrying them away in August and strip the tree bare before the nuts are ready for harvest in the fall.

3 large garlic cloves
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup hazelnuts
3 cups fresh basil
Sea salt to taste
6-8 cups green beans

1. Press the garlic cloves and mix with olive oil in a food processor. Add nuts, then basil and salt.
2. Blanch green beans and toss with pesto. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Witbier-Steamed Manila Clams

3 dozen wild manila clams
2 cloves pressed garlic
1/4 cup diced sweet onion
2 tbsp. snipped rosemary
1½ cups witbier (wheat beer)

1. Purge clams in seawater to remove sand. Scrub clam shells.
2. Put garlic, onion, rosemary, and beer in stock pot. Bring to simmer and simmer for a couple of minutes to blend flavors. Add clams, cover, and steam for 10 minutes or until shells open. Serve immediately (discard any unopened shells).

By Jody Suhrbier, Team Member, and Joellen Reineck Wilhelm, Team Leader