I recently had the opportunity to take a trip out to the Cascadian Farm Home Farm in Concrete, Washington. I was traveling for work, and the stars aligned that made it possible for me to get there, and I am so glad I did.
Prior to going, all I'd been told about the home farm was that it was magical, and since my arrival to the Cascades was in the middle of the night, I had no idea what I was walking into the next morning.
It was cold and foggy that morning, but that didn't stop us from heading out to the farm early. We poked around, watching the water in the river and the fog lifting over the rows of blueberries. Not even the roadside stand was open yet.
But the pests and critters were out, making their way across the path, and I may have stepped on a few before I realized they were covering the road. I would later learn from Farmer Jim that one way of dealing with slugs is running them over or cutting them in half.
Our official tour started in the barn and quickly moved over to the strawberry fields that were being picked for sale at the stand and that would later end up in my strawberry coffee cake.
Farmer Jim was a fantastic host, explaining his method of crop rotation, detailing how he cares for each plant that's growing and pest control. I learned several practices I want to put in place for my own backyard garden about my small strawberry patch, the new raspberries I planted and the tomatoes that I struggle to keep under control. The home farm grows tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse to sell at the roadside stand in later months.
And as strawberry season was soon going to come to a close, he gave us the official tour of the new raspberry plants that were just starting to ripen. This was the first full season since planting this variety, and Farmer Jim was excited about the earlier harvest they would yield.
We spent quite a bit of time in the blueberry field, and I got an in-person speech from Farmer Jim on how to grow blueberries organically. I've been dreaming of trying my hand at blueberries, and now I know how to compost and cover my blueberries with sawdust to create the appropriate conditions for them to flourish in.
As my tour and stay at the farm came to close, I instantly called my husband to ask him if we could move there, and then, more seriously, I told him Farmer Jim should be the voice for organic farming across the U.S. I was absolutely smitten as he broke down the hows and whys of organic farming, and it made me think back to my childhood when those methods were still covered in school.
What will my children learn about food production? Will they be told we create seeds in a lab so they can tolerate being sprayed with as many chemicals as we can throw at them? I know that I'm glad I have Cascadian Farm and other organic brands fighting to bring back traditional methods of growing crops and farming for a sustainable future for my children.
If you're ever in the Seattle area, do take the time to make a visit up to the farm. The North Cascades Highway is a great drive, and the farm is well worth the journey up there. Plus, who doesn't want homemade ice cream at the roadside stand? If you happen to be there in the fall, I'm told the pumpkin patch and sunflowers are quite the photo opp.
Photos by Shaina Olmanson