Saturday, September 22, 2012

Change....all in a day's work!

First....a couple of important announcements:
* Seed Garlic!  Is available at Bayview Farm and Garden and all the Skagit Farmer's Stores (Oak Harbor, Freeland, multiple Skagit Valley locations).  We also have limited availability of seed garlic at the Coupeville Farmer's Market today and will have seed garlic NEXT WEEK at the Bayview Farmer's Market!
* There are still some tickets left for this great event at the Chef Tamara Murphy's new Capital Hill restaurant Terra Plata. truly will be on a panel with a few other great farmers talking about farmer to chef relations and other cool local food topics.  Eat great food in an amazing venue and support the PCC Farmland Trust supporting local farming in the Pacific Northwest!
* Next Saturday, Sept. 29th, Bayview Farmer's Market will be hosting Chef Eli Dahlin for a chef demonstration.  THIS IS NOT TO BE MISSED!  Eli is the genius behind the flipping amazing food at one of Seattle's most celebrated restaurants - The Walrus and Carpenter in Ballard.  Eli is a big supporter of local farmers (Willowood delivers there every week and he LOVES Little Brown Farm cheese as well!) and we are honored to have him at the market giving away a few of his secrets of how to use the fall harvest bounty.  Chef demo's typically run from 11 to about 1 during market hours.  Please come watch what amazing things Eli can do and support a local chef and restaurant who really walks the talk when it comes to using local foods!

And now, on to our regularly scheduled musings....
The last few days have dawned cooler and misty.  Signs of the fall and winter to come.  One thing about farming that just becomes part of your being is change.  Crops come and go through the season.  Weather warms, gets warmer, gets cold, gets colder.  We are deluged in rain and then a few months later we are parched dry.  Whatever seems to be the issue problem this month, will most likely be long gone next.  Yet you persevere.  Or at least you try to find how to juggle this, make this change, do things a bit differently, so it can all work out in the end.
One of my fellow and favorite farmers, Chief Milkmaid Vicky Brown of Little Brown Farm is in the throes of this right now.  In many ways her farm has been successful probably beyond her imagining.  But in other ways, it has been a long hard and really expensive road to hoe.  (Or in her case, milk....heh-heh)....Here is her latest blog on meeting some of those challenges head on.
I think Vicky is making exactly the right choices.  Not by the choices, per se, but recognizing she has to make them and meeting them head-on.  Having spent the last few years trying to balance my farming life, my family life and my financial realities...I know how she feels.  But I also know if she can't find some balance in her life she won't be able to keep farming and boy, that would be a loss for all of us!  And the thing is, change happens.  Change is good.  Change is what you do so you can keep going on.  Change are the seeds you plant tomorrow for the harvest at season's end.'s all good! 
Meanwhile, here at Willowood we have had the year (so far at least), that I have been fantasizing about for several years.  The crew this year has just been, well, a joy.  Any crew that will dress up like this and sing oompa-loompa songs on the 4th long and dirty day of harvesting a few tons of potatoes while they celebrate "OcTUBERfest" is one that well, how can you even describe how great that is!
Crops have grown better than ever.  We've had bounteous harvests are all our favorite things plus crops we've struggled with in years past have really done better than ever thanks to new farming techniques, close attention to detail and just good farming practices that I have to mostly attribute to my amazing farm manager Blake Mennella.  His wonderful wife Bobbie has run the show at the Bayview Farmer's Market this year, perhaps you have met her!
My roles has transitioned this year out of the fields and more, well, onto the computer and phone.  Which, is frustrating sometimes, but, is the reality of the farm. I've also spent less time at the markets which you might have noticed. But, that was a conscious decision to allow me more time at home with my family.  Having children and a husband who are on a Monday-Friday schedule and then not only being gone all day Saturday but being so exhausted on Sunday to do much is a strain on the family.  Yet it has been a relief to know that the growing and the selling is in such great hands that I've been able to spend more doing the things that I can best do to help the business...
Sales have gone through the roof (almost 50 percent increase!) as I have expanded our wholesale deliveries with weekly deliveries into Skagit and King counties thanks to the new refrigerated delivery van that I couldn't have done without the help of a local investor who looked at my crazy numbers and took a risk anyways!  Thanks to John Lovie and his lovely wife Brenda!
Insane Onion Harvest.  This times 10!
Our new greenhouse financed by local author Vicki Robbin has grown bounteous amounts of tomatoes that are well, a joy to behold!  Yeah for local investors!
But it's been a lot of years to get to this point.  One of my farmhands asked me this year, if I could have my dream job what would it be?  And actually, this would be it.  Just with a little more cash in my pocket and savings in the bank when it is all said and done!  Yet, while I look at the numbers from this year and think about the next few months of sales when we finish our potato, onion and dry bean harvest and typically bring in about 40 percent of our yearly sales (all in the last 3 months of the year!  crazy, huh?), I have a lot of optimism for the next few years to come that my dream job has the potential to be financial viable for the long term.  How wonderful it would be if I could, in 20 years or so, pass on a thriving farm business to my two daughters (and let's hope they might want it!). So, I continue to think and dream, and, I'm sure, will make the choices and the changes to get there!
And now, enough of the sentimental musings....Here is what is coming to market TODAY!
* Tomatoes!  We've got some great tomatoes at market today.  Heirloom mix (funky looking but great tasting!), San Marzano sauce tomatoes and cherry tomatoes as well!
* Peppers!  We are pretty darn excited to have this beautiful pepper harvest this year.  They are all mostly sweet roasting types and some poblano/ancho types as well!  (i.e. chile relleno peppers!).
* Onions!  Sweet Wallas, Copra cooking and torpedoes as well!  (and btw, more onion varieties still to come including cippolini's probably next week!)
* Potatoes galore.  It's big-time potato harvest right now and we've got the 10 lb storage bags to prove it.  Stock up!
* Garlic!  Can you have enough garlic?  I can't!
* Basil.  Loads of it perfect for end of season pesto making.
* Beets.  Can em!
* Carrots
* Kale and Chard
* Summer squash (only a few more weeks on these, enjoy them while you can!)
* Shelling beans.  If you know them, you love them!
* Leeks
* Rutabagas
* Celery
* Parsnips
*  Spinach, Mesclun and Arugula bags
* Cabbage - GIANT red and green ones.  Great for sauerkraut!
* Broccoli...
And more!  (Corn coming from Ebb Tide and I believe some apples and other fruit from Whidbey Green Goods as well).
Hope to see you at market!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie


  1. Notice the different Colorado barn doors in the pic of the onion harvest? That's due to the HARD work of Papa (Georgie's Dad) and partial financing by Ebey's Forever Fund associated with our historical reserve. The doors will rapidly "gray out" to match. Good work Papa and sorely needed!

    1. The automatic editor on my Kindle changed the word that I wrote (c- o-l-o-r-e-d) to Colorado! And it does it every time I try to correct it -- thus the new marks inserted here!