Life — flowers, animals, herbs, vegetables — is bursting out all over the North Olympic Peninsula right about now.
Within 25 miles of Sequim, for example, nearly 30 farms are growing food they’ll bring to market this spring.
If you drive around looking, though, you might not be able to find these places — until now.
The statewide Eat Local First Collaborative, a group of farming organizations, has launched the WA Food & Farm Finder, a free online tool to ease the hunt for local provisions.
The site, at eatlocalfirst.org, lets users search by ZIP code for producers within as little as 5 miles. Lists, maps and information about food businesses owned by women and by people of color are also part of the website.
All of this is happening on the cusp of CSA-shopping season, the period when growers market community-supported agriculture farmshares: weekly subscriptions to produce grown nearby.
“During the pandemic, this is really a big deal,” said Laura Vaughn, the Food & Farm Finder project liaison for the Olympic Peninsula.
Local growers have seen a leap upward in demand for produce, she said, whether they raise animals, like Clark Farms in Sequim, or plant flowers like Lexi Koch in Port Townsend.
Wanting to minimize their supermarket shopping amid the pandemic, many people sought out farm stands and farmers markets. And Koch, whose flower business is LexiMara.com, saw customers craving blooms to brighten their homes.
At Wild Edge Farm west of Port Angeles, Jim and Karen Halberg Weaver offer four seasons of goods — including a pork farmshare and eggs from pasture-raised chickens.
“Right now we’re selling our spring share: a roast, pork chops, ground pork, sweet Italian sausage, breakfast sausage and bacon,” Karen said. “Did I say bacon?”
Farmshare subscribers, who can pick up their packages at the Saturday Port Angeles Farmers Market, take home around 17 pounds of meat for about $135. Wild Edge Farm also offers curbside pickup and delivery to drop-off points in Port Angeles.
Later in spring, the Weavers will team with two nearby farms to add goods: Olympic Harvest Farm for microgreens and Johnston Farms for fingerling potatoes.
In choosing local food, people vote with their forks, Karen believes — for a future with healthy land, people and sustenance.
Eating local, Vaughn added, is adventuresome. Growers often include recipes in their farmshare boxes, so subscribers can try something new with products that haven’t appeared in their kitchens before.
In Jefferson County’s Beaver Valley, a group of young farmers is assembling a kind of buffet spread for this year’s CSA.
White Lotus Farm, along with Space Twins Provisions, the Crooked Shepherd and Finnriver Farm, will offer farmshares with vegetables, bread, cut flowers, pork and lamb.
This way, “we can all specialize in the things we’re passionate about,” said Natalie Swope, who runs White Lotus Farm with partner Niall Motson.
Their CSA deliveries run May to October, but hungry locals can buy such produce sooner, Swope added. She and her fellow growers will set up their stands at the Uptown Port Townsend Farmers Market, which opens for the season April 3 at Lawrence and Tyler streets.
Three Peas Farm, a small Port Townsend operation on Black Bear Road, is not as well-known as the Peninsula’s older farms. Its product roster, however, reflects the bounty of spring, summer and fall in this region.
Three Peas grows nine kinds of fruits and berries, about 35 herbs and vegetables plus chicken, turkey, lavender starts and edible flower bouquets.
This season the operation offers a kind of marketplace CSA, including leafy greens, eggs, herbs, Crusty Crumb bread and Duckabush mushrooms — doorstep-delivered by electric car. The weekly boxes, mid-May through September, cost $25 each, with a discount for subscribers who sign up before March 31.
Wild Edge Farm’s Karen Halberg Weaver said she’s inspired by the people whose appetites for locally grown food lead them to her place.
“The experience of people really seeking us out: That’s the dream of the farmer,” she said.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]