When we moved to our current farm, it was about as close to heaven on earth, as one could get. It had a great building where we could pack all of our produce, and use it as a home base. The initial 23 acres that came with our farm were idyllic. The kids had so much room to roam. You might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned the farmhouse.
Funny story about that, the land and out buildings were the jewels of the 130-year-old homestead. We had been hunting for a farm to buy for 5 years. Land is so critical for a farm. It literally will define what type of farm you are going to be. Dairies and crop farmers staked out claims in the river valleys and beef, chicken, lamb and Christmas tree farmers made the hillsides their homes. We looked long and hard from Okanagan to Goldendale to Montesano, even as far south as Scio in Oregon.
It was exhausting, everything just out of our reach or didn’t have the right soil type. We finally just paused and prayed this simple prayer, “Lord, if you want us to farm in Snohomish County, you are going to have to provide a way.” It wasn’t more than a week later that a friend of ours was out planting trees on the river banks and had parked across the street in the driveway of what is today our farm.
I had let all of my farming friends know that we were looking. It just so happened that this particular farm was a rental and the renters had moved out unannounced.. Our friend just happened to be taking a break when the owners, took a break from working and wandered out and struck up a conversation.
She asked, “Do you know anyone looking to buy a farm?” That encounter changed our lives. It had a great building, incredible land, and it was in a part of the flood plain that didn’t have any dikes. Joelle grew up in the Snohomish River valley and she remembered the horrific floods of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and how devastating it was for those families with flood waters flowing through the rafters. We knew we didn’t want to be buying or moving to a farm that was situated behind dikes you can’t see over.
This farm checked all the boxes, occasional minor flooding, a great barn to work in, and rich soils. The old farmhouse, to quote my mom when we showed her what we had just agreed to buy said, “Are you going to tear it down and put a mobile home on it?” It was in pretty bad shape. To quote another friend of ours, “Fools rush in, where pro’s never tread!” We didn’t know enough to make an informed decision or we didn’t care. WE HAD FINALLY FOUND OUR FARM!
My mom and our dear friend were both right, it was a fixer, but the house had good bones, and we had considerable energy back then (today not so much).
We no longer use the out buildings for packing, and have since moved that part of our operation to downtown Stanwood. And now the farm is where we grow food for you. It is also where we live. It’s become a place where the third generation runs and plays, recreating many of the same memories that their parents had.
As we draw closer to our 22nd year of growing vegetables, that one prayer back in 2003, changed everything.
-Tristan, Joelle and the Box of Good crew