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Farm Tours: Family-friendly fun in your county

Sep 10th, 2013 | Category: Farms, Features

On the cusp of fall, a number of local farms open their doors to the public each year, inviting visitors to see and learn about local agriculture and life on the farm. Family-friendly and self-guided, these free events provide a hands-on experience for all ages. See what’s happening in your county this season.

Goats at Ebey Road Farm. PHOTO BY KAREN BISHOP

Port Susan Harvest Jubilee Farm Tour (north Snohomish)

Port Susan Harvest Jubilee Farm Tour,  presented by the Port Susan Food & Farming Center, will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 28-29. A self-guided tour of farms in Silvana, Stanwood and Camano Island, the public is invited to meet farmers, tour their family-owned farms, and learn about the industry and variety of crops that are grown in the area. This free event is designed to promote local agriculture and teach children and adults where much of their food comes from while providing the opportunity to experience agriculture at work. Each farm offers something for the whole family with farm products for purchase, exhibits, demonstrations, and presentations to inspire future farmers and food entrepreneurs, as well as to entertain with tours and hay rides. For updated information and a list of participating farms this fall, visit www.portsusan.org.

Young visitor picking beets at Bellingham Country Gardens. PHOTO BY SUSTAINABLE CONNECTIONS

Whatcom County Farm Tour

The 6th annual Whatcom County Farm Tour, sponsored by Sustainable Connections, will be held Saturday, Sept. 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and includes 11 self-guided tour stops. Attendees can enjoy train rides, tastings and samplings, compost demos, spinning and weaving demonstrations, winery tours, and more. Visitors are encouraged to bring cash when buying farm products, and a cooler to keep foods fresh throughout the day. Tour goers can also bike to the farms, but are asked to keep dogs at home.

The following locations are featured this year:

• Back In Thyme, Ferndale: Herbs, soaps, salves, potpourri, and plenty of unique home sewn gifts.

• BelleWood Acres, Lynden: Apples, cider, distillery, train rides, and more.

• Bellingham Country Gardens, Bellingham: Flowers, veggies and spray free hand-picked berries.

• Bellingham Farmers Market: A meeting place for farmers, producers and locals, featuring fresh produce, food and crafts.

•  Camelot Alpaca Ranch, Ferndale: Meet the alpacas and the new summer babies, and see demonstrations on spinning and weaving fibers.

• Cascadia Mushrooms, Bellingham: See organically grown gourmet and medicinal mushrooms and learn about what types they grow and how.

•  Cloud Mountain Farm Center, Everson: A nursery, workshop and living laboratory. Come see how they grow fruits, veggies, ornamentals and trials.

• Dakota Creek Winery, Blaine: Award-winning sustainable wine, tour their winery and beautiful cellar.

Visitors check out piglets at Farmer Ben's in Lynden. PHOTO BY SUSTAINABLE CONNECTIONS

•  Farmer Ben’s, Lynden: Up close and personal tours with pastured pigs, grass fed and show cattle, horses, and laying hens.

• Pure Peonies, Everson: Chemical-free peonies grown with sustainable farming practices. Over 10,000 peonies available for potted, fresh cuts or tubers.

•  Vartanyan Estate Winery, Bellingham: Small, women-owned and operated winery, producing some limited edition wines.

Attendees this year can become a Farm Tour VIP. For a donation of $25 or more, tour goers will receive a Farm Tour VIP bag filled with coupons and freebies available from each of the farm stops, a Sustainable Connections ‘Where the Locals Go’ Coupon Book and more. VIP packages can be purchased on Brown Paper Tickets or on the day of the Farm Tour at any of the stops.

For more information visit www.eatlocalfirst.org or call (360) 647-7093 x114. Entry to farms free of charge.

Whidbey Farm Tour

The 8th annual Whidbey Farm Tour takes place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 21-22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

Participating farms include:

Samples at Vartanyan Winery. PHOTO BY SUSTAINABLE CONNECTIONS

• Case Farm, operated by Mike and Sheila Case-Smith, produces beef calves, hay and grain, as well as vegetables, plant starts and a pumpkin patch. Located at 98 Case Road in Oak Harbor.

• Huntersmoon Blueberries is a 10-acre, late season, organic blueberry farm owned by Joe and Pennie Janousek. Located at 935 Bunch Lane in Oak Harbor.

• Wildwood Farm, located at 2326 Happy Valley Road in Oak Harbor, is a breeding, training, and educational facility focusing on the care and education of horses and students. Operated by Heather Carder.

• Lavender Wind, operated by Sarah Richards, makes a variety of lavender products and more at their Coupeville shop at 15 Coveland Street.

• Rosehip Farm & Garden is a small-scale, diversified farm producing organically grown fruits and vegetables. Operated by Linda Bartlett and Valerie Reuther at 338 Fort Casey Road in Coupeville.

Young visitor enjoys filling her wagon. PHOTO BY SUSTAINABLE CONNECTIONS

• Greenbank Farm is home to the Agriculture Training Center, and hosts activities around agriculture, recreation and more. Owned by the Port of Coupeville, Greenbank Farm is located at 765 Wonn Road in Greenbank.

• Pronkin’ Pastures Alpacas is home to 31 alpacas at 2582 North Bluff Road in Greenbank.

• Sonshine Farm, owned by Pamela Uhlig, raises Kiko meat goats and alpacas at 5662 Crawford Road in Langley.

• Whidbey Island Vineyard is operated by Gregory and Elizabeth Osenbach at 5237 Langley Road in Langley. The vineyard has been growing winegrapes and producing wines since 1986.

• Comfort Farm & Vineyard, owned by Carl and Rita Comfort, is a 22-acre farm that grows 4 acres of wine grapes at 4361 Witter Road in Langley.

• Paradise Found Fiber Farm, operated by Mary Donaty, has been raising llamas on Whidbey for 14 years. Located at 4081 Springwater Lane in Clinton.

• Glendale Shepherd is a family owned and operated Grade A sheep dairy farm at 7616 Glendale Heights Road in Clinton.

• Strawfield House and Farm will feature fresh pressed cider and guided tours on the 5-acre farm. Owned by Aracely and John Knox, the farm raises various animals and grows an assortment of produce. Located at 2604 North Bluff Road in Greenbank.

• Whidbey Island Distillery produces loganberry and raspberry liqueurs, as well as rye whiskey (coming). Operated by Bev and Steve Heising, the distillery is located at 3466 Craw Road in Langley.

Many farms will be hosting other farmers, food purveyors, and entertainers. The tour is free. For a complete map, or more information, visit www.whidbeyfarmtour.com.

Skagit Valley Festival of Family Farms

On Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5 and 6, the public can visit 14 stops during the 14th annual Skagit Valley Festival of Family Farms. Open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the participating farms and wineries open their doors to show their operations, talk local food and drink, meet animals, and more.  Activities include educational exhibits, free samples, kids activities, corn and hay mazes, animal exhibits, pumpkin patches,  and scenic tours.

Gordon Skagit Farms. PHOTO BY RENEE KALSBEEK

Participating farms this year are:

• Taylor Shellfish: Prior to its purchase in 1991 by the Taylor family, this farm started growing oysters in 1921. Now run by the fourth generation of the family, the Taylors began farming shellfish in southern Puget Sound in 1890. Festival goers can learn about shellfish farming and clean water awareness, meet shellfish farmers, and try Steamed Manila clams or barbequed Pacific oysters. Visit the touch tank, or watch the oyster shucking demonstrations and crab races. The farm is comprised of 1,700 acres of shellfish beds in the tidelands of Samish Bay, with a retail store and shore side picnic and BBQ area on Chuckanut Drive.

• Samish River Dairy featuring Golden Glen Creamery: This 65-cow (Holstein and Guernsey) dairy farm produces farmstead cheese and butter, and has a retail store, including cheddars, goudas, mozzarella, feta, and cheese curds. Vic Jensen & Sons Dairy began in 1967, and moved to their present location in 1978. Golden Glen Creamery started in 2004 and is operated by the family. Enjoy the tractor rides and ice cream, see the animals and antique tractors and farm equipment, and check out the  artificial cow milking “Squirty Gertie” and “Dairied Treasure” Hunt.

• Sakuma Bros. Farms: Located on 1,500 acres, this farm offers a Market Stand on 40 acres with berries, fruit trees, vegetables and seven varieties of tea plants. The Sakuma family has grown strawberries in the Pacific Northwest since 1915 and moved to the Skagit Valley in 1939. The third generation is currently farming, with the fourth joining in. Enjoy berries, apples, wagon hayride tours, and learn about fruit and vegetable crops, history of Sakuma Farms.

• Double O Ranch: Learn about calving, animal health, pasture and timber management and more on this 580-acre cattle ranch. See the animals up close, and check out samples of the beef, homemade sweet breads, jams, honey and coffee. Double O Ranch and Ovenell’s Heritage Inn was founded in 1940, and is currently run by the family’s fourth generation.

• Hedlin Family Farm: Hedlin’s 400 acres is farmed under conventional management and certified organic production, and includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers and other crops. Founded in the early 1900s by grandparents Rasmus and Pothea Koudal, Hedlin Family Farms is currently in its third generation. Participants can tour the farm and greenhouses, learn about tomato, pepper and basil production, conservation practices, and do vegetable art and veggie racing.

• La Conner Flats: Comprised of 230 acres, this diverse farm produces significant nursery stock, as well as potatoes, berries, seed crops, cereals, herbs and more. Great grandparents, Isaac and Margaret Jennings arrived in area in 1869, purchasing this farm in 1884. The first crops were oats, hay and potatoes. Tour the 11-acre display garden, see vegetable trials, and enjoy cider making and samples.

• Gordon Skagit Farms: Gordon Skagit Farms was founded in 1936 by the Gordon family, and is now run by Todd and Eddie Gordon, who grow 60+ acres of pumpkins. Enjoy the corn maze, u-pick pumpkins and apples, haunted room, paintings, willow basket making demonstrations  by Katherine Lewis, honey education booth by Bruce Bowen’s Bee’s, and more. The pumpkin contest will take place Saturday, with drop off from 9 a.m. to noon (weighing at noon). Prizes for biggest and smallest!

PHOTO BY RENEE KALSBEEK

• Schuh Farms: This 300-acre farm features antique tractor educational hayrides, a squash talk every half hour, and a walk down the Gravenstein apple path. A “Great Pumpkin Patch” is on site, as well as activities by admission, including a corn maze, barrel train ride, and pumpkin balloon playground. This was a small farm held for four generations by the Hansen Family, and has been farmed by the Schuh Family the last 15 years.

• South Fork Farms: A small alpaca farm surrounded by more than 70 acres of Skagit Valley cropland, alpacas are raised for their high quality fiber. Meet the alpacas, do alpaca art crafts for children, see the food cart and farm-made products, as well as a walking tour and halter training demonstrations. A third generation family owned farm since the 1800s doing crop and cattle farming, the present generation is focused on raising huacayan alpacas.

• Cascadian Farm: This 28-acre organic farm in the foothills has a roadside stand with berries, homemade ice cream and more. Festival activities include a hayride tour, pumpkin decorating, self-guided walking tours, learn about blueberry pruning, and take part in scarecrow making and the U-pick pumpkin patch. The farm was founded in 1972. In 2006, managers Jim and Harlyn Meyer won the Washington Tilth Farmer of the Year award.

• Hemlock Highlands: 45-acre beef cattle operation. try samples of Highland beef and sausage. Take the guided hayride, see the petting pen featuring calves, live music, pony rides, and kids coloring contests. The farm has been raising registered Scottish Highland cattle for beef and breeding stock since the early 1990s.

• Eagle Haven Winery: This 40-acre orchard has 40 varieties of apples with five acres of vineyards. The Perkins family planted the first orchard in 1972. They planted the vineyard in 2000. Check out free samples of apples, pears, cider and wine. Take a hayride, and learn about apple production and wine making.

In Skagit Valley. PHOTO BY RENEE KALSBEEK

• Challenger Ridge Winery: Founded in 2000, this vineyard offers walking tours, maps and details on clones of Pinot Noir, as well as a tasting room and bowling on Bocce ball courts. Participants can learn the process of wine making from grapes to wine.

• Roozengarde: RoozenGaarde is a retail shop and 3 1/2 acre display garden featuring an authentic Dutch windmill. RoozenGaarde is open year around and serves as the retail division of Washington Bulb Co.

For a complete farm map and more information, visit www.festivaloffamilyfarms.com

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