Back in October I went out to interview the Jensen family at Golden Glen Creamery for the Nov/Dec issue of Grow Northwest magazine. You can read the original article here, but I thought it would be fun to post some of the other photos I took.
The Jensens don’t actually own the creamery any more, but the family is still very much involved in running the place. All the folks I talked to were exceedingly proud of their milk, the quality of their cheese, and their rather snazzy cheese room. When Vic opened the door and let me peek in, a vast waft of garlic hit me in the face from the fresh wheels of dill-garlic cheese resting on the racks. If you’ve ever had that stuff as fresh cheese curds, you may agree with me that it’s one of the more addictive dairy products out there. I also got a glimpse of the aging room, which happened to be a trailer parked behind the farm store.
I did not get to meet any cows. I was informed that they were off being milked (something they spend quite a bit of their day at). No cheese samples, either. But I got to have a large dog lean against my legs while I took notes, and the view from the farm was nice.
I used my trip out to the dairy as an excuse to drive around on the Skagit flats at dawn and take pictures of the autumn fields in the morning mist.
(There are, by the way, calendars of my photographs for sale over at Qoop. Just thought I’d mention it.)
Last weekend we were delighted to have the chance to visit Martiny Suffolks, the farm from whence comes the lamb we’ve been eating all summer. As part of the Skagit Festival of Family Farms, many small farms up and down the valley opened to the public for the day, including great places like Taylor Shellfish, Golden Glen Creamery, and Gordon Skagit Farm (to see the festivities at Gordon’s, check out this post at Willow Basketmaker). There were all sorts of activities, but we were there for the free samples and to give a few sheep noses some scritches.
We probably would never have ended up as customers if Linda Martiny (who owns the farm along with Mike Donnelly) hadn’t decided to try running a booth at the Mount Vernon Farmer’s Market this year. We saw the sign for local lamb on the first day and made a beeline, immediately buying a selection of chops and ground meat. We ended up buying half a lamb, and I suspect it will only be the first of many.
Just a reminder to anyone in the general neighborhood: this weekend is the Skagit Valley Festival of Family Farms, when many of the local small farms open their gates to visitors and feature tours, activities and goodies for the general public. If you want to visit a working farm or see where your food is coming from, now’s your chance. There will be hayrides and corn mazes and all kinds of fun stuff. Make a day of it!
The list of participating farms can be found here.
Today is the kickoff of Skagit Eat Local Week, sponsored by the local Slow Food chapter and the Skagit Valley Co-op. If you’re in Skagit County, now’s your chance to take advantage of all this amazing area offers. Participating restaurants will be featuring local food specials, and residents are encouraged to shop at farmer’s markets, farmstands and shops selling local products. Are you cooking at home? See how much you can do with Skagit Valley-produced ingredients. Remember, Eat Local Week happens mostly at the end of your fork.
One of the many cool presentations at IFBC was for a group called Shepherd’s Grain. An alliance of small family-farm wheat growers, they are committed to sustainable agriculture and high quality grain production.
Even cooler than that, Shepherd’s Grain has partnered with Stone-Buhr flour to create a nifty program called Find the Farmer, which lets you see exactly where the wheat for your flour was grown. All you need to do is go to http://www.findthefarmer.com, type in the Lot Code off the top of your flour bag, and voila! Names and locations of the farmers who grew your wheat.
I think anything that connects farmers to the people who eat their product is a wonderful thing (hence my love for farmer’s markets and farmstands). And sustainable farming, especially of something grown on such a huge scale as wheat, is something we should all support and make an effort to encourage. When people make a special effort to do something right, especially with something as difficult and time-intensive as farming, they need all the support they can get.
[stepping off of soapbox now]