by intern Alaine Janosy
In the 1980s an unknown fingerling potato, the Makah Ozette, was recognized as a staple in the diet of Pacific Coast Native Americans of the Makah Nation. The Makah named this potato the Ozette after one of their five villages located around Neah Bay, Washington.
Acting as the stewards of this potato variety, Slow Food Seattle, the Makah Nation, several farmers who supply restaurants and sell at farmers markets, a laboratory which produces potato seed for the USDA at an Agricultural Research Station, and the Seattle chapter of the Chefs Collaborative all came together to create a project to resurrect this heritage variety. This project was officially recognized as a Presidium project by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity in 2008.
This year, one of the farms currently growing the potato —Full Circle Farms, a 300-acre certified organic farm in Carnation, Washington— is supplying The Essential Baking Company with a portion of their fall Makah Ozette crop to use in the bakery’s potato bread and potato rolls. The bakery created a brochure to publicize the potato, the project and the bread.
I spoke with Gerry Warren, Presidium coordinator, about how the promotion with The Essential Baking Company came about. Apparently, it’s something the Presidium has wanted to do for a while but the crop has been too small until now to entertain the idea. With this year’s bumper crop it was a perfect time to give it a shot. Anna Lee, Slow Food Seattle member and executive board member of The Essential Baking Company, worked with Full Circle Farms and the Presidium to get Makah Ozette potatoes to the bakery for a test run. The resulting bread and rolls were delicious so the bakery agreed to use the Makah Ozette as the base for their potato bread and rolls for two months, from October 15 to December 15, 2009. Initially, the bakery was only going to use the potato for one month, but since Full Circle Farm was so successful in growing the potatoes, there was sufficient crop to feature it for an additional month. Look for Makah Ozette potato bread and rolls at grocers in the Puget Sound area and at The Essential Bakery cafes in Seattle’s Wallingford and Madison Valley neighborhoods.