Guest Writer: Sally Zalac

Perched on the rim of the lush green valley for which it is named, Blackjack Valley’s farmland slopes down to the valley floor where the creek, now dammed by otters, has created a seasonal pond. Small herds of Black Angus and dairy cattle dot the fields. Another 20 acre parcel is home to Farmer Karen Olsen’s pig and goat herds, a disease prevention strategy to keep the cows as healthy as possible. Every precaution is made to maintain the safety and cleanliness of Blackjack’s raw milk dairy.

Karen’s father brought home the family’s first cow when she was 5 1⁄2, sparking a love of farming. Within a few years she was hired to take over the milking for an injured neighbor, receiving the milk in return to do with as she pleased. She would pedal her bike home from milking, two full buckets hanging from her handle bars, to process it in her mother’s farm kitchen. How the dairy industry has changed over the years!

As we entered life with COVID-19, Karen was in a unique position to help her loyal customers continue to feed their families, many of them with up to 10 children. She created “Pandemic Packs” of specially priced, unusual meat cuts, and continued to provide them with raw milk. She is passionate about feeding the hungry, her motto being “Save. Spend. Share.” In that vein, Karen also took on the task of running our sister market, Fresh Food Revolution, out of her barn. After a lifetime of farming the thought of retiring with her husband “sounds boring,” she says. Her greatest regret is that there are no family members clamoring to take over her business and maintain this beautiful piece of fertile valley land.

Sally Zalac is a valued customer and volunteer for Kitsap Fresh. She has a passion for local farms, organic food and regenerative farming. Photo taken by Meegan M. Reid / Kitsap Sun

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