Audrey Tehan strikes her own American Gothic pose. She will host the quilts of Jill Martin in the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show’s annual garden tour.
 photo by Tim Toth
Audrey Tehan strikes her own American Gothic pose. She will host the quilts of Jill Martin in the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show’s annual garden tour. photo by Tim Toth
The gardens of the farm-based education program at Seed to Table will serve as the backdrop for quilts created by local quilter and retired pediatrician Jill Martin during the Quilts in the Garden tour on Thursday, July 11, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Martin’s mother was an active crafter, influencing her interest in handmade items. For her first quilt effort, Martin created squares and sewed them together for a bedspread for her college dorm room. While in medical school, she decided to try her hand at an intricate Lone Star patterned quilt that was on the cover of a Better Homes and Gardens quilting book.

Turned out the template provided wasn’t correct and had to be redrafted by her husband. Martin admits it took her five years to complete the quilt. It took her several years to piece it and then she decided it should be hand-quilted. Besides the quilt and her medical practice, Martin was also busy raising three boys with her husband.

After moving to Corvallis, where she joined her first quilting guild, Martin decided in 2005 to purchase her own long-arm quilting machine to ensure the quality of the quilting. To help pay off the machine, she said she began quilting for other people.

Martin retired from her pediatric practice in 2008 but filled in on a temporary basis at the Benton County Health Department until 2015. She and her husband have owned a home in Sisters since 2003 but moved over full time in 2013.

She and her husband are both now retired, he having successfully defeated cancer. Martin is not one to remain still for long.

“I am doing exactly what I want,” she said proudly. That includes hiking, biking, knitting, quilting, weaving, and spinning.

Martin has entered quilts in the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show over the years and has had sponsored quilts displayed in local stores. This year, a large number of her quilts of various sizes and styles will be seen displayed on the fence surrounding the garden at Seed to Table on July 11.

A native of Sisters, Audrey Tehan founded the Seed to Table program in 2013 on her family’s farm. A graduate of Southern Oregon University with a degree in environmental studies, focusing on politics and conservation biology, Tehan believes firmly in growing food using practices that sustain both natural resources and the community.

For over a dozen years, Tehan has focused on involving children in education outside the classroom. At Seed to Table, students are provided with hands-on experiential education by being involved in growing healthy food, learning to live healthy lives, and connecting with others around them.

In six short years, the program has established at least 10 distinct programs, from their K-6 field-trip series, which includes 12 farm field trips for every student between grades two and six, to the four-season greenhouse and agriculture program at Sisters High School.

There are programs for adults as well and several special social events including Art in the Garden workshops and the Fall Harvest dinner, which serves about 200 people.

Seed to Table works in collaboration with local healthcare providers to offer their Fresh Food Farmacy in which food is used as medicine, helping people improve their health by improving their eating habits or by reducing food insecurity, ensuring participants have an abundance of fresh vegetables for six months. The cost of the program is subsidized on a sliding-fee scale based on income.

While admiring Martin’s quilts, visitors to the garden will also be able to see firsthand how Tehan’s program can produce 30,000 pounds of organic produce on an acre-and-a-half of land. Besides providing produce for over 200 families during the growing season, the garden also provides fresh produce for school lunch programs and Central Oregon food banks.

In its 22nd year, the tour is presented by the Sisters Garden Club, which gives the proceeds from ticket sales to support the work of other community non-profits, including Seed to Table.

Tickets for the tour of five special Sisters gardens and homes are $20 (children under 12 free) and may be purchased at the Sisters Chamber of Commerce and The Gallimaufry.