19 Dec

Cloudview Farm

Posted by Jenna, Under Food

Another farm tour I did while in Washington over the summer was at Cloudview Farm, just a few miles from my grandma’s house in my hometown. Most of the farmers where I grew up are the typical farmer that you see across the United States today. High use of pesticides and fertilizer, focusing on large amounts of one/a few crops, and not very excited about the organic movement. Cloudview Farm is completely different. It’s organic, focuses a small amount of land (comparative to the other farmers in the area) on a broad range of crops, and attracts a crowd with a bit of a hippie vibe. During the summer the property fills with schoolteachers and other individuals with flexible jobs that allow them to come over and live in motor homes, trailers, and structures that look like tee-pees while they help work the land and sell the produce at farmer’s markets around the area.

It was started by Jim Baird, and I imagine him to be a version of what Joel Salatin must have been like when he first started out. My dad has partnered with Jim on a few potato trials (planting different varieties of potatoes, at different times, in different places, to test out how they grow best) which is how we scored ourselves an invite to this particular tour.

 

Cloudview started in one farmer’s market in the central Washington area, in a town called Farmer’s Market. The place where I grew up, and the towns that surround it, aren’t very progressive and so farmer’s markets aren’t highly attended. They’ve grown over time though, and now they sell to schools and provide a CSA subscription, as well as visiting the markets each week.


Jim described what he’s doing as a community style farm, where employees help determine the direction that things move. They started a hog operation this year, and already have goats and chickens on the property. In what I consider to be a pretty small space, they were growing close to 70 varieties of vegetables!

These apricots, fresh off the tree, no artificial ripening whatsoever, were DIVINE. I made myself sick on them.

On the left is a man discussing organic trials and studies they are doing on the property, trying to answer the question, “Is organic really better for the environment when it comes to carbon emissions?” My dad is on the right, talking about his potatoes.

My two favorite pictures from the day.



Pigs!!! If you have seen my Childhood album on the That Wife facebook group page, you know I can’t get enough of them.





I loved this place so much, I came back a few weeks later and did a high school Senior Portrait session on the grounds. I really hope I can establish more of a base and do more portrait sessions like that in the future!

After our dinner was the most extreme version of a localganic dinner that I’ve ever had. Almost every single thing available in the buffet was not only made from scratch, it was also produced on the premises.

I wanted to write this post not only to document what I thought was a really unique experience, but also to leave you with this thought by Jim (via some notes taken by me on my iphone). He left some time during the tour for questions and answers, and someone asked if it was really realistic for farmers to spend their time trying to develop a business operating on an organic model.

Can this type of farming feed the world? 200 acres of orchards could feed all of Seattle. What if we stop spending so much time shipping our food, and think about translocation of people? Get more people living closer to their food and being involved with their food. Are people willing to do the labor? Would you literally “work for your food”? Harvesting the food fosters a sense of community, conversation and hard work and laughter, and selling to farmer’s markets allows them to connect with the people buying the food.

I enjoyed mulling this thought over, that maybe (at least here in America) some of the answer lies in more people being willing to become involved in food production. Moving away from the city and experiencing what the country (not the suburbs, the country) has to offer.

That is how I grew up, and even though I never thought it would be possible as a teenager, I long for it now. I want a garden, and a goat, some chickens, and a pig or two. And I wouldn’t mind strapping my baby to my back and bending down in Jim’s field to harvest some kale once or twice during the summer either.

12 Comments


  1. I’ll add that you can garden anywhere – in pots in the city, in small yards, etc. Of course it’s nice to have more space for trees and animals but you can make do as the circumstances require. And I’ll further add that gardening greatly reduces my grocery budget with better food at the same time.

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  2. I really liked the quote that you shared. I always enjoyed having a small garden in my parent’s backyard growing up, and I think my most memorable experience was learning how things are grown organically in Mozambique. We worked with a lady named Alice most days while I was there in 2009, and would meet her in the farming areas around 5:30 each morning. The locals thought we were so funny since working the gardens is considered a job for the poor, but we were happy to learn their way of doing things and lend a hand. My friend made a short film about it for the Kennedy Center Film Contest, here is the link if you want to see how things work there (they sell things door-to-door in this video, though they also have farmers markets, and supermarkets too…I would say the farmers market is the most common place to buy food) Loved the post, and the plate of food looks incredible!

    Kristin Reply:

    oops, here is the link to the short film: http://vimeo.com/12088621

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  3. This post brings up a question to me – with your connection to farming and localganic, does this conflict with your urban apartment lifestyle? Do you ever hope to live in a rural place again?

    Jenna Reply:

    Oh yes, very much so! But we’re not ready to give up everything and move onto the farm just yet. We have some other plans first :)

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  4. I can relate 100%! Growing up I wanted nothing to do with the farm I grew up on. It was work that I had to do and not what I enjoyed. Well looking back I could slap myself for not learning more when I had the chance. My dream now is to farm. I love it! I have cows and chickens and huge gardens and can and freeze the majority of my food. I love it. It’s still not fun to feed the cows when it is 15* outside but I accept that it is part of the equation. I wish more people could understand the amazing feeling that it is to raise and prepare your own food!

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  5. Life on Mulberry says:

    1) I love the emphasis on transporting people more efficiently! I’m sure someday we will live in suburbs, but at the moment, I can’t imagine having a car or spending a long time in one!! I probably don’t spend enough thought on how long it takes my food to get to a farmers market, let alone a grocery store.

    2) I’ve said it before, but your mom is one lucky lady ;) Gooo Mr A! Gives Robert Redford a run for his money every time.

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  6. i live just a few miles from Jenna’s Grandparents (in her hometown). I can’t imagine living anywhere else in the world! My husband and I are hay farmers. We don’t farm organically however we do believe in being good stewards of the land because for one thing it is our livelyhood and the better we treat the land the more money we make! Also managing the water and soil in a conservitive way makes good sense money wise and for the land. We want our children to be able to have this land someday. I don’t think that just because you aren’t growing organic doesn’t mean you aren’t a good farmer. I know this is off the subject a little bit…LOL :-) I also think that it would really stink if more people lived near their food sources just because my little corner of the world would probably get a little crowded!

    Jenna Reply:

    This is a good reminder. IT doesn’t have to be about “organic farmers love the earth” and “conventional hate it”. There are plenty of organic farmers who cut corners and just do it for the money.

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  7. How cool. I just got back from visiting my 90yr old Grandfather and he lives right next to an Orange Grove. I have been eating oranges for days and have not become tied of them yet. It was such a great visit and you would never know my Grandfather was 90yrs old.

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  8. In one class in college, back in the early 90s, we had a guest speaker who had written book stating that he believed that the nation would be seeing a return to rural living. He believed that we would reach a point at which it was no longer sustainable for us to have focused urban centers, and that we would need to change how we lived to cover our basic needs.

    At the time I thought it was a radical idea, but I was also impressed by how learned, well versed, and factual this man was. And now, with the local movement, and the obesity epidemic, and even the Occupy movement, I see that people are yearning for an equal, sustainable, and personal existence. We want to know others, know we each matter, know that others see how hard we work, and I think we all want to help others.

    Thanks for posting this :) I like Jim’s quote and the photos are lovely!

    Hillary Bost Reply:

    I agree with you Paula. I know many people who have great gardens that allow them to never have to purchase them from the store unless it is a specialty item. In my city we have a local farmers market that is open year round and that is where I get my meat local and fresh with nothing weird in it such as binders. People are also allowed to have chickens in their yard withing the city limits. Raleigh NC is all about sustainable living.

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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