Emmett Farm Memories

I asked my aunt if she would share some of her memories of moving to the Emmett farm and growing up here. We hope you enjoy these memories and photos as much as we did!

In 1934, jobs in South Gate, California were scarce. Frank Robinson was a skilled plasterer with a wife, Blanche, and two children, Frances and David, then aged 6 and 4. When they found themselves having to choose between gas for the Model T or milk for the children, they knew something had to change. A farm would mean a bit of security. At least they would eat! Frank had an acquaintance, Wes Awald, who had a dairy in Meridian, Idaho. He did Frank the favor of checking out the Larkin farm which was for sale in Emmett. It was 40 acres with a house and barn. His report was that the barn was good but the house was “not much.” Both were built with square nails. No plumbing in the house!

The decision was made. The Model T was traded for a larger Jewett for the trip. The kids’ cousin Don Malan was still in school, but old enough to drive the truck loaded with the family belongings. The trip took a week. It’s hard to imagine that trip without today’s highways, rest stops and drive through restaurants.

Blanche was beginning to have her doubts as they drove mile after mile through the desert. It was when they came to the top of Freezeout Hill and saw the beautiful valley below she began to feel confident about the move. In later years she would recall her relief, seeing “two shades of pink and white” stretching out below, in the valley that would be her home for the next 48 years.

They grew the grapes and bottled the juice themselves. Lots of the bottles were left behind as they drove. Less weight was better.

They grew the grapes and bottled the juice themselves. Lots of the bottles were left behind as they drove. Less weight was better.


The trip from California to Idaho took a week, and the Robinsons had to picnic along the way. Frank fashioned a box to hold food, towels, and bottled grape juice. The photo shows one of the remaining juice bottles. The box would become a towel holder in the “wet room” of the home, a back room that Frank plumbed for a bathroom and laundry. Everything was used and reused, fixed or repurposed.

Frances with bee swarm

Frances with bee swarm


Frances was her Dad’s willing helper when the family kept bees. She turned the crank on the extractor and filled 5 pound tins so honey could be sold. The photo shows their bee keeping license issued by the Idaho Department of Agriculture. It came in the mail as a post card dated March 21, 1945 and had a 3 cent postage stamp.


A bulletin from the American Honey Institute dated May, 1945 suggested the following:

“Are you serving plenty of cottage cheese these days when meat is scarce? For dessert press cottage cheese through a sieve. Add 3 tablespoons of sour or sweet cream and 3 tablespoons of honey to each cup of cheese. Beat until fluffy. Add 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Note: This is also delicious when served as a topping on gingerbread, fruit gelatin, or cherry tarts.”

American Honey Institute Bulletin

American Honey Institute Bulletin


During WWII farm laborers were hard to come by. To manage hay season, a loan from Blanche’s brother Will allowed them to purchase a Case wire baler. It took all four family members to complete the job. Frances drove the tractor; Blanche fed the wires into the slots of the wood block, wearing leather gloves; David tied the wires as the 100 pound bales worked their way to the end of the process; and Frank had the dusty job of placing the wooden block that marked the end of one bale and the start of a new one. It was the first baler of its kind in the Valley.


Soon after arriving in Emmett, Frank arranged to pasture dairy cows in exchange for the milk, probably around 8 cows. Frances was the tail holder while her Dad sat on a T stool to milk. After some time, Frank fashioned tail holders from rubber hose and heavy wire. Milk went into 10 gallon cans to be cooled in the irrigation ditch until they were picked up. As time went on, they purchased a separator and sold cream to the creamery.

The NCAP Annual Report

NCAP helps protect our community through environmental health; they inspire the use of ecologically sound solutions to reduce the use of pesticides, and their work is helping so many farmers and communities in the Northwest.

NCAP assisted us in planting a native wildflower pollinator meadow, which is a mutually beneficial piece of land for both bees and farmers. To read their full report, go to http://www.pesticide.org/annual_reports.


Why We Chose Organic

By Emily Wahl

I didn’t grow up eating organic food. I’m sure many of you can relate to that. As a girl growing up in rural South Dakota in the nineties, the organic food movement had barely reached our radars. Frugality was the first priority, and my mom was an expert at getting meals on the table on a budget. Dinner was often a grilled meat paired with frozen vegetables or the ubiquitous Hamburger Helper. During the day I ate a fairly steady diet of junk food. A “caramel cappuccino” from a gas station on the way to school, or a box of Cheezits when I returned was common for me. The idea that this could be damaging to my health never occurred to me as I was skinny as a rail. But I was tired most of the time, and beginning to show signs of depression.

It wasn’t until I got to college and started developing more serious problems that I realized my diet had to change.

It has been a long and difficult process, but I have gone from being a person who was often stuck in bed to a person who is excited about what is in store for her life

Over the course of my time in college, my health began to rapidly get worse. I knew that there was something wrong, but I didn’t have the words back then. Today doctors have all sorts of words to define us. Words like autoimmune disease, adrenal fatigue, Hashimotos, and SIBO are all now at my fingertips, and I’m just a Google search away from discovering an overwhelming amount of information. But when I started to develop my problems I didn’t have these words; I didn’t have any understanding.

What I did know is that what we put in our body matters, and I had no hope of recovering my health without drastically changing my diet. It was around this time that I began to start researching what healthy eating really meant. With many competing health theories out there, this was quite the process. But all of the health experts seemed to agree on one thing; that we should be eating REAL food! Our food should be coming from farms or be as close to the source as possible. And it should be raised and grown according to time honored tradition, not sprayed with chemicals that are damaging to our health. I began to understand that it wasn’t just about organic, but about supporting a new, sustainable system of agriculture.

Eating organic and local food became about more than just healing my own body. It began to be about supporting the kind of community and culture that I want to live in. I want to know the people producing my food. I want access to the broad array of culinary delicacies that only come within a local food system. And I don’t want my children to be facing the environmental fall out from unsustainable ecological practices.

There is a lie we tell ourselves; that this will go on forever, and we will never get better.

As I have walked this health journey for over a decade now, there have been many elements that have been essential to healing. I have used supplementation, herbal medicine, therapy, exercise, and lifestyle changes. Organic food alone was definitely not enough to bring about lasting change. But without it, all of these other interventions would have had little effect. It is easy to slip up and eat poorly when we are inundated with the conventional system all around us. But for me, the ramifications of bad eating choices are felt immediately. I could lose all of my energy for days, or be in instant, severe pain. I am extremely grateful to get to live in a place where these conventional, processed foods are not my only option, and I have the ability to access a wide array of amazing local products. Now my diet is largely composed of seasonal produce from Idaho’s small farms, grass-fed beef, and our own backyard eggs.

For me, making a permanent shift to organic eating took a health-crash and the realization that the medical system did not have a pill that would ever substitute for taking ownership over my own health. I got sick and tired of looking at my dreams in the distance and knowing that my body wasn’t strong enough to pursue them. It has been a long and difficult process, but I have gone from being a person who was often stuck in bed to a person who is excited about what is in store for her life. I plan on making my thirties a time of new endeavors and vibrant health!

There is a lie we tell ourselves; that this will go on forever, and we will never get better. But often  that lie takes hold because we are stuck in a paradigm created by our dominate food culture. We live in a country that perpetuates illness by making unhealthy food seem normal, and training doctors to only help when the situation becomes dire. I thought I was alone with my problems, but I am beginning to see that I am just one of thousands battling for her health at far too young of an age. We have an opportunity to change the direction of our fast food culture and return to a way of living and eating that will make health the norm and not the exception.