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Our farm: Thoughtful Food rebuilds

Jan 4th, 2016 | Category: Farms, Features

by Jeff Richardson

This year has been a rollercoaster ride for our farm, Thoughtful Food, as we recovered from a devastating barn fire in February. The cause of the fire was never determined, but the result was destruction of the housing for our pigs and cattle, the loss of all our equipment, and the death of a dozen breeding rabbits and one litter of piglets. Although it was a depressing and overwhelming loss, the kindness and community support we’ve received in the aftermath has been equally overwhelming.

Owners Jeniffer Tobon and Jeff Richardson, of Thoughtful Food farm in Bow, are thankful for the community’s support during the rebuilding process following a devastating fire in February 2014. They are also launching Chuckanut Organic Garlic, a new venture into the garlic seed business, offering several varieties including Romanian Red (below). More farm photos and updates are available on their website and Facebook page. COURTESY PHOTOS

Owners Jeniffer Tobon and Jeff Richardson, of Thoughtful Food farm in Bow, are thankful for the community’s support during the rebuilding process following a devastating fire in February 2015.  They are also launching Chuckanut Organic Garlic, a new venture into the garlic seed business, offering several varieties including Romanian Red (below). More farm photos and updates are available on their website and Facebook page. COURTESY PHOTOS

We started our small farm business in 2011 initially renting farmland in Snohomish County. In 2013 we bought our current farm in Bow. We were drawn to the Skagit Valley by the promise of a supportive farming community, and we haven’t been disappointed. The help we received from our neighboring farms, especially Samish Bay Cheese and Bow Hill Blueberries, has been monumental in allowing us to rebuild our barn and to continue our business. In addition, we are grateful for the support of local farm organizations such as the Northwest Agricultural Business Center and the HumanLinks Foundation.

Perhaps most inspiring has been the support from folks in the community who donated time and monetary contributions to help us rebuild our barn. Attempting to run a profitable farm business while maintaining a set of ideals oriented toward animal welfare and organic horticultural practices is not an easy endeavor. We heard again and again that people believe in the importance of local food and that they wanted to see our business succeed. Over 150 people donated to our fundraising effort, and over 30 came to our barn raising party in August to help us attach siding and build sliding doors. It’s hard for us to believe that there is a better place to own a farm than in the Skagit Valley.

Pigs at Thoughtful Food.

Pigs at Thoughtful Food.

Thanks to the support we received, we were able to replace our destroyed barn with a new, simple pole building that will meet our needs for years to come. The barn is currently housing three almost-weaned, bottle-fed calves, seven breeding pigs, four free-ranging chickens, and one attack rooster. Our sows will farrow in mid-February and their pigs will be raised on our pastures through the spring and summer until slaughter in September. The steers will be culled in mid-Fall 2016. We sell half or whole pork shares and beef shares as whole, halves, quarter or eighths to individuals and families. We collaborate with Andal’s Custom Meats in Mount Vernon for our humane on-farm processing and butchering.

The new barn also has plenty of space to support our newest venture in the seed garlic business, which we are launching under the name Chuckanut Organic Garlic. We spent last year increasing our seed stocks and plan to sell garlic seed for the first time in 2016. We just completed the 2015 processing season by converting our greenhouse into a garlic curing building. Next year we look forward to curing, packaging, and shipping garlic from the new barn. We will be relying primarily on the Internet for garlic sales, and we will be focusing our energies on testing and only growing varieties that perform well in the unique climate west of the Cascades.

Romanian Red garlic.

Romanian Red garlic.

You can read more about the farm and follow Jeff’s blog at www.thoughtfulfoodfarm.com. Find out about our foray into the garlic business at www.chuckanutorganicgarlic.com.

 

Published in the January 2016 issue of Grow Northwest

 

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