We're back at it again with another selection of farm love stories to help you celebrate Valentine's Day. We see these vendors every week, so it's great to learn about the love they have for their farm and their loved ones in their lives. Farmers Markets are filled with an amazing community of people filled with love.
Green Bow Farm
Christina and Matt met in college, long before they ever thought of farming, as art majors at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. During that time, Matt began a work study job at the Henry Art Gallery and was able to leave his long held restaurant job as a sous chef. This started a 12 year career in the arts as a preparator or "art installer." Christina worked at PCC after college and remained there through the birth of their first two boys, leaving only to move to Ellensburg in 2012 to begin farming. They came to farming because neither Christina or Matt had a desire to make a living as working artists and wanted something more, particularly based around their passion for food and where it comes from. Shortly after their third son joined the party, they got busy building a farm business, or rather, the farm business began building them.
Oddly, farming and art making are very similar in their challenges and processes which Matt and Christina's artist friends are quick to point out. They feel that they never left the arts, but rather refocused their creative energy into a piece of land. A true connection of passions, which makes them both find it so satisfying at the end of each day.
Stop by the Green Bow Farm booth at the West Seattle Farmers Market year-round.
Present Tense Farm
Neil and Jayme met the summer of 2010. They both had the charming idea to work a full season on a mixed vegetable farm in southern Oregon. Living in camper trailers aptly named “Avocado Terry” and “The Canned Ham”, Neil and Jayme spent 8 months planting, weeding and peddling the harvest together at the Saturday morning market. Farms are intimate places and naturally, they got to know one another pretty well. Neil and Jayme knew they enjoyed each other’s company when their free time was spent together at local swimming holes, riding bikes or sharing the largest cookies ever created from the corner cafe down the road. Serendipitously, they fell in love with farming too and began Present Tense Farm in 2013 on one leased acre. Things have since expanded, but you can still catch Neil and Jayme selling vegetables together every Saturday morning at the Magnolia Farmers Market and Sunday mornings at the West Seattle Farmers Market.
Windy Acre Farm
In the Summer of 2016, Farmer Chris decided to go outside his comfort zone of farming to step foot in the streets of Seattle during the 2016 Pride Festival. Andy, a friend, invited Chris to hang out with himself and Cameron, Andy’s childhood friend. They took a tour of the city, taking it all in. The bustle of the big city, the sights to be seen at Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. The day consisted of much laughter and joy as friends reconnected and new relationships were formed. Who knew that a random invite from a friend would fertilize the soil of newly formed friendship to the blossoming love story it is today?
Chris, being the farmer, put Cameron to work right away. The first few dates consisted of weeding and plotting where the new tomato crops would go. Even though Cameron works a full time job as a Veterinary Assistant, he spent his days off helping on the farm. Although the days were long and hot, Cameron never quit coming to the farm every moment he could. He knew that there was something special about this farmer (even though Chris “forgot” his wallet half the time so Cameron paid for lunch).
The summer/fall seasons consist of Cameron spending every day off working with Chris at the farmers markets. The winters are spent debating on what seeds to order for spring. During their off time they love to spend time with family and friends, snuggling with their two dogs, Manny and Kohlrabi, and attending Seahawks games together.
Connecting with customers and embracing their new found love has made them determined to make each year better than before. The wedding is being planned, the sun is shining and the seeds are being planted for their most prosperous years to come!
Stop by the Windy Acre Farm booth at the Capitol Hill Farmers Market starting in April, and Columbia City Farmers Market starting in May.
Nick and Sarah met seven years ago and started Spring Time Farm one year into their relationship. At the time, Nick ran a nonprofit that farmed urban spaces. After a series of cross country bicycle trips, Sarah had set to installing a large garden. She had had her eye on Nick for some time and asked him to come to dinner to consult about quack grass. That thinly veiled move actually worked, and after about a year of dating Nick somehow convinced her to start their own "real" farm together out in the county. The first year of farming and running a business together was an exercise in incremental success and frequent communication breakdowns, but they are now into their sixth season as Spring Time Farm and the second season farming on their own property.
They convey that they are very privileged and happy to be able to work for themselves and outside most days and are deeply committed to the long term health of their farm's habitat. And are still looking for an organic solution for quack grass...
Stop by the Spring Time Farm booth at the Capitol Hill Farmers Market starting in April.
Stories written by the farmers themselves.
In the upper Skagit Valley you will find 34 acres of beautiful orchards located right along the Jones Creek, hence the name Jones Creek Farm. Filled with around 200 varieties of heirloom apples, pears, peaches, and garlic, Les Price, farmer and owner of Jones Creek Farm spends his days harvesting fruit for market, running his U-Pick operation, and experimenting with new products.
The first thing you’ll notice when arriving at the farm is the big red barn, known as the ‘Apple Core Store’ where you can buy fresh picked fruit and other fun local treats. If you have a bit more time to hang around, on the weekends during peak season you can drop by to pick your own apples straight from the tree.
Les prides himself on growing unique, heirloom varieties of apples that are difficult to find elsewhere in Washington. You definitely won’t see the bright pink-fleshed Arlie’s Red or lumpy-looking Callvile Blank D’hiver varieties at the grocery store, but they can be found in abundance at Jones Creek Farm. Les has even experimented and created some of his own apple varieties, including the tart and crunchy “Winter Mac” that resembles the flavor and texture of the beloved Macintosh, but lasts much longer into the autumn season.
Apples may be what Jones Creek Farm is known for, but there is so much else going on at this farm. Over the past few years, Les has experimented with growing figs and Meyer lemons (!) in his greenhouse. If you are one of the lucky few you may be able to snag some of these specialty items at the market, but they sell out fast!
Before you leave, make sure to say hi to Joey, the farm’s pygmy goat. For a little goat he really has so much to say.
You can find Les and his many apples at the Capitol Hill Farmers Market every Sunday from July through December.
Article by Leah Litwak
Take a peek behind the scenes at Mariposa Farms from a visit we made last summer. We're excited to seem them again at the West Seattle Farmers Market again! Looking forward to beautiful summer produce...
Ahh the hazelnut--ever underappreciated but oh so delicious. At the Farmers Markets, Holmquist Hazelnuts provides the best hazelnuts around, so in honor of their delicious hazelnuts, here are a few interesting facts to get you thinking about hazelnuts a little more…
The History of the Hazelnut: 5 Interesting Facts
Find Holmquist at the U-District and West Seattle Farmers Markets, Saturdays and Sundays, year-round.
Written by Lacey Pike
A bit of a throwback to 2016, when we visited Gray Sky Farm. It is likely that much has changed, but enjoy a sneak peek into the inner workings of one of your local farms! Try out Tony and Christina's products at Capitol Hill Farmers Markets every Sunday, year-round, 11am-3pm.
Just north of Seattle in Snohomish County, Gaosheng Cha grows flowers, berries, and tomatoes, and has many hives producing honey in a variety of flavors. Gaia’s Harmony Farm is named after the Gaia, the Greek goddess Mother Earth, and Harmony, which is the environment that Gaosheng aspires to create at the farm.
Gaosheng’s parents are Hmong immigrants who started farming in 1993. She and her daughters have continued the family farm, running the operations in Snohomish while her parents primarily farm on their other plot of land in Puyallup. She is currently building new greenhouses with the hopes of expanding her tomato growing operation and experimenting with growing mushrooms in 2018.
If you’re looking for a unique honey experience, Gaia’s Harmony is the place to go. With berry, flower, fireweed, and knotweed honeys, as well as flavored cream honey and medicinal infused honey, she can take care of all of your sweet needs! Her products make a great gift and you’ll definitely want to take home a jar for yourself while you’re at it.
All of her honey creations can be sampled weekly at the Capitol Hill Farmers Market on Sundays.
Post by Leah Litwak, Photos by Lucas Anderson and from Gaosheng's Instagram
Blong and his wife See, who married in 1995, have been farming since the early 90’s. That's when they moved to the United States having lived in refugee camps in Thailand. Like many other Hmong farmers, they fled Laos (and before that China) due to war. Blong doesn’t speak much about it other than recognizing they have faced serious hardship. They have been able to trace their family heritage back 9 generations to China—Family and history being major themes to this family farm. “I don’t focus on the money. I focus on happiness. Family is the sunshine in the house. My kids are what motivate me.”
Blong grows both flowers and vegetables in Carnation, Wa, right in the heart of King County. They don’t have access to any water rights, so they farm “with mother nature. Life is different than on paper!” Blong farms with experience and the knowledge that their success is dependent on time management and understanding consumer demand, “It’s all about time management. Don’t wait. Do it right away!”
They spend much of their time from March-December surveying and studying fields and crops knowing that it’s just as much about the day to day as it is about the whole year…including the upcoming season! Over the years, Blong has been able to streamline some of the grueling tasks like weeding by farming in wider rows so he can fit a tiller in between rows. That said, what would take an average person a day to weed, Blong and See can accomplish within an hour.
Their primary cash crops are peonies and dahlias, both of which happen to be their favorite plants to grow. Flowers are their focus, as they takes less time than vegetables for them to grow and harvest. Because time management is key to this two person operation, they often find themselves picking only 30% of the vegetables that they grow. Time is not the only factor in this limited harvest. Customer expectation around the perfect, clean vegetable also comes into play. It’s a hard mental barrier for us consumers to break…What is perfect?
At the end of a hard day, Blong and See enjoy what they are doing, and we can tell. “I have fun out here every day!” This is a testament to what these stewards to the land and community do for all of us. Not only do they nourish the soil and our bellies, they bring their positive spirit and beautiful flowers to four Seattle farmers markets.
While they could take their flowers to wholesale dealers, they come to the markets to earn not only a living, but also to be a part of something larger than their individual business. “We are a part of a system. Each vendor makes me better.”
In the Market world, we refer to this as the Market Magic where one can FEEL the energy, SEE the collaboration and VISUALIZE the possibilities of what we create together, every week, rain or shine, at the Farmers Market. We hope to see you at the Farmers Markets, and be sure to stop and smell the flowers!
Photos and Article by Ivy Fox
May 10th marks Seattle's biggest giving holiday, GiveBIG, which will give you the opportunity to support your favorite non-profits all around the city. With that, we wanted to show you how your support of us here at Neighborhood Farmers Markets supports Washington farmers as well.
Read more to see how farmers have benefited and re-grown after tough times thanks to the help from supporters like you and the Good Farmer Fund, our emergency relief fund for farmers in our market system.
We have stories from Little Wing Farm, Glendale Shepherd, and Tieton Farm + Creamery... All amazing farmers who have gone through hard times and have been kind enough to share their stories with us.
We recently visited Glendale Shepherd on Whidbey Island to see a bit of spring on a sheep farm. Enjoy this visual tour of their beautiful farm!
Nature’s Last Stand is a 25 acre farm that sits on one of King County’s most scenic farm landscapes - Snoqualmie River Road. Practically encircled by water, the farm land sees annual floods which bring about additional challenges when you are raising pigs.
John has been farming for a long time, over 20 years, and he started by growing row crops finding success in growing large, beautiful beef steak tomatoes and potatoes.
Much like the ancient cabin that still sits on the farm, through time, the farm has transitioned, adapting to changing climates, life, and customer demand. You can still see the greenhouses John used to fill with tomatoes that now act as covering from the elements. Farming is challenging, and as a one man show, something had to give, thus the tomatoes were left behind.
Today, John sells breakfast sandwiches with the pork he raises while the rest of the ingredients come directly from the other farmers, processors and bakers present at the market - Samish Bay cheese, Tall Grass Bakery brioche buns, River Farm chicken eggs, Woodring condiments. This is truly a farmer’s market breakfast.
Written by Ivy Fox, U-District Market Manager