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Rebirth of the Scandia Patch
SCANDIA — At the Scandia Patch farm stand, newly-built produce stands — painted farm green, honey yellow and raspberry red — will soon be piled with apples, pears, peas, squash, tomatoes and zucchini.
A nearly 50-year tradition is returning, continuing the work started by Dwight and Pauline Droz.
Community volunteers have come forward to continue cultivating the Drozes land on Scandia Lane. Dwight Droz died in 2009, Pauline in 2012. Their friend, Larry Bazzell, took care of them and their farm for the last 10 years, and didn’t want to see their legacy end.
“God put it on my heart to help them,” Bazzell said.
Longtime patron Lisa Walker also didn’t want to see the Scandia Patch end.
“This farm has [had] a real special place in my heart, in my family’s heart” for many decades, Walker said.
She remembers taking her two children to pick pumpkins there when they were young.
After Pauline’s death, Walker wanted to help keep the farm going. She said she had received a donation from a friend, and woke up one day knowing she must donate the money to the Scandia Patch.
Now that they had their “literal seed money,” as Walker said, they just needed the manpower. Bazzell got some help with other farmhands and Walker went about raising awareness of the farm’s impending renaissance. The veggies and fruits were growing, and chickens laying eggs, but the 40-year-old farm stand was showing its age.
Many people in the community grew up with the Scandia Patch and were willing to help when contacted by Walker. Peninsula Paint donated supplies, James Lumber donated the wood, and Dave Stewart of Sealcoat & Stripe 4 Less donated gravel. Some 35 to 40 volunteers helped in whatever way needed.
“I had a vision to rebuild [the farm] with the community,” she said. She envisions families picking up their vegetables, salsa and fresh eggs here, and maybe staying for a picnic. “I want it to be something the community can enjoy,” she said.
It was also important the farm stand remain handicapped-accessible; Walker has used a wheelchair for 36 years, and said there many farm stands are too difficult for her to navigate. Bazzell even planted the sugar peas in rows wide enough so Walker could help harvest peas.
“I’m so excited [to be able to pick the peas],” Walker said. “I love to be hands-on. I love to serve and help. There is no greater reward in life than to help people.”
Bazzell said the Scandia Patch will be a continuation of how the Drozes ran their farm.
Scandia Patch began as a “postage stamp of a garden,” according to “One for the Weather, One for the Crow,” the Drozes’ 1996 book about their years of farming. They would put a few squash on a table by the big tree in their front yard — still there — and a coffee can. Each day when they would come home from work, the squash would be gone and there’d be money in the can. Bazzell said he intends to continue this “honor system” tradition, but he will be on site most of the time.
Today, organic farming is a big deal, but organic was simply how the Drozes farmed. And it continues today. Bazzell gets his fertilizer from a local horse farm, and he takes a hands-on approach for any pests.
“I flick bugs off with this hand and pull weeds with both,” he said, showing his dirt-caked fingers. He said he always liked working in the dirt, but didn’t become a farmer until after careers in the Navy and as a general contractor.
Bazzell now lives in the Drozes’ farm house, on five acres next to Big Scandia Creek. He currently sells at the Bremerton Farmers Market, but says “stand by for the grand opening” later this season at the Scandia Patch.
“Anyone who comes down that road is going to benefit [from the farm], and that’s the whole point,” Bazzell said.
Stay updated by visiting the Scandia Patch Facebook page.
SCANDIA PATCH HISTORY
— Founded 1966 by Dwight and Pauline Droz
— Dwight worked for the state Employment Security Department, retiring in 1975. Pauline worked for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard until 1969.
— Pauline often entertained school children with her educational presentations, and shared sought-after recipes.
— Dwight was also a writer, and founded Scandia Patch Press to publish his books. They were tales reminiscent of his life moving around the Western U.S. His books are available on Amazon.com.