Chrys Ostrander – Professional and Civic Bio
Chrys Ostrander was born in New York State in 1957 and grew up in Chappaqua, N.Y. He attended College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine in the 1970’s as well as the University of California at Santa Cruz in the early 1980’s. He moved to Washington State in 1990. He is currently Caretaker at a former retreat center known as Heartsong in Tumtum in Eastern Washington State and has a central role in organizing educational permaculture events at Heartsong through his affiliation with the Inland Northwest Permaculture Guild and Spokane Permaculture. Chrys keeps a small, personal herd of dairy goats at Heartsong and experiments with cheese-making. He manages an 8000 sq. ft. permaculture garden and various permaculture plantings at Heartsong and designs and implements the land’s permaculture design.
Chrys has been involved in the organic food and farming movement since 1976 when, as a student, he was introduced to natural and organic cuisine at College of the Atlantic that was prepared by chefs who had been trained at The Farm in Tennessee (an intentional community known for its pioneering work introducing natural foods like tofu to the U.S.).
In 1979, Chrys joined a commune in Bar Harbor that operated the Sunflour Bakery. The commune distributed organic, whole grain breads and pastries throughout New England. Later, Chrys briefly worked for the world-renowned environmentalist Rene Dubos at the biologist’s non-profit in Bronx, N.Y. named the Rene Dubos Center for Human Environments.
In 1982 Chrys moved to Santa Cruz, California to attend university. He lived in Santa Cruz for seven years. In California, Chrys worked in an artisan shop making organic tofu and then joined a workers’ collective that distributed organic produce between Santa Cruz and San Francisco. In 1989, Chrys began his farming career working at two organic farms in the Santa Cruz area before moving to Washington in 1990 with his son Nikita who is now 29 years old living in Seattle. For the next 19 years, Chrys homesteaded and began raising his daughter, Lyra at Tolstoy Farm, an intentional community in Eastern Washington. While at Tolstoy he operated Chrysalis Farm, a certified organic micro-farm and bedding plant operation and co-founded the Tolstoy Farm Marketing Collective that markets and distributes to Spokane the organic produce grown at Tolstoy.
In 2009, Chrys was invited to manage a non-profit educational and charitable farming project that was being undertaken by People for Environmental Action and Children’s Health (PEACH). In 2010, Chrys, with his then 12 year-old daughter Lyra, resettled to Cheney, WA to manage the PEACH Community Farm at Pine Meadow Farm. In 2012, PEACH withdrew from the project, but Chrys stayed on to manage the farm as it transitioned to being operated under the auspices of the Pine Meadow Farm Center, a new non-profit organization incorporated in May, 2012 and fiscally sponsored by the Seattle-based Cascade Harvest Coalition and Chrys was named its Executive Director and Farm Manager. The project could not secure regular funding and folded in 2013.
Since the early 1990’s, Chrys has been active in sustainable agriculture organizing and information sharing via extensive Internet-based networking. He is co-founder and past Secretary/Treasurer of the Spokane Farmers’ Market in Spokane, Washington. His interests include: Micro-farming, organic gardening, parenting, political activism, web design, web-based activism, intentional community, Permaculture Design (Chrys is a Certified Permaculture Designer), photography, herbology, cooking and music.
Born Mt. Kisco, NY 1957
Graduated Darrow School, New Lebanon, NY 1975
College: Attended College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, ME (2 yrs.) and UC Santa Cruz (2 yrs.)
Son, Nikita, 29 yrs.-old
Daughter, Lyra, 17 yrs.-old
My interests include: Micro-farming, organic gardening, raising dairy goats, sustainable homesteading, parenting, political activism, computer skills (i.e. web design, web-based activism, digital graphics), intentional community, permaculture, photography, herbology, cooking and music. I am a Certified Permaculture Designer.
Current Employment (in addition to private clients):
Caretaker, Heartsong, an 8 ½ -acre former retreat center. I maintain the physical plant, buildings, gardens, orchard, forests and meadow.
Professional Worker 1 (Information Technology), Washington State University, WSU Northwest Research and Extension Center, Mt. Vernon, WA and WSU Spokane County Extension. I maintain several websites for different faculty members’ projects.
*Executive Director, Pine Meadow Farm Center, non-profit, educational farm, May 2012 to Sept. 2013.
*Director of Farming Programs and Farm Manager for the PEACH Community Farm, a non-profit, educational farm for People for Environmental Action and Children’s Health (p.e.a.c.h.), Oct. 2009 to Feb. 2012.
* Inspector, LOCAL Safe Certification, People for Environmental Action and Community Health (p.e.a.c.h.), Sept. 2009 to Feb. 2012.
* Freelance Web Designer – 2006 to present.
*Secretary/Treasurer and Internet Guy, Spokane Farmers’ Market Association 2008 – 2009.
*Consultant for the PEACH Farm in Veradale, WA, PEACH (People for Environmental Action and Children’s Health), Spring 2008.
*Member, Leadership Team, Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network, 2005 to 2007.
*Vice President for Communications and Media; Vice President for Legal Affairs, Washington Association of Shareholder Dairy Owners, 2005 to 2007.
*Farm Support Coordinator, Local Choice Network, a project of People for Environmental Action and Community Health (PEACH), July 2005 to June 2006.
*Garden Designer/Builder/Coordinator, Twin Owls Community Garden, Spokane, WA, June 2005 to June 2007.
*Garden Manager in Training, Pacifica Organic Market Garden, Summerland, CA 2004 – 2005 (Fall to Spring).
*Chair, Developing New Markets Committee, Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network (contract position), 2002 – 2004.
*Contract Web Designer, Tilth Producers of Washington, 1999 to 2010.
*Editor, South Whidbey Tilth Newsletter, April – November, 2001.
*Board of Directors, Washington State Farmers’ Market Association 1999 to 2002 State-wide association of farmers markets.
*Board of Directors, Spokane Farmers’ Market Association, 1999 to 2001 a farmer owned- and operated farmers market (co-founder).
*President, Spokane Tilth, 2000 to 2002 and Editor Spokane Tilth Journal.
*Board of Trustees, Spokane Tilth, 1998 to 2002 (local chapter of Washington Tilth Assoc.).
*Member, Tilth Producers, 1998 to present.
*Board of Directors, Tilth Producers, 1995 – 1998 Washington’s Organic Growers Assoc.
*Marketer for Eden Gardens at Tolstoy Farm, 1993 – 1999 (at which time we founded the Tolstoy Farms Marketing Collective).
*Board of Directors, Spokane MarketPlace, 1993- 1995 a Spokane Public Market.
*Farm worker, Molino Creek Farming Collective, Davenport, CA, 1989 growing season.
*Farm worker, Blue Heron Farm, Watsonville, CA, 1989 growing season.
*Co-owner/Operator Organic Matters Produce Company/Third Planet Produce/Santa Cruz Trucking Collective, Santa Cruz, CA, 1983 – 1988. Distributed organic produce throughout north central California.
* Tofu-maker, Clearway Organic Tofu, 1982- 1983, Santa Cruz, CA.
*Program Coordinator, Rene Dubos Center for Human Environments, Bronx, NY, 1980- 1981.
* Co-owner/Operator, Sunflour Bakery, Bar Harbor, Maine, 1978 – 79.