PORT TOWNSEND — A herd of rare and endangered breed of red poll cattle now call Jefferson County home after a donation to the Washington State University Jefferson County Extension Office this spring.
The herd of 16 red poll cattle are being cared for at Twin Vistas Ranch on Marrowstone Island, which will be one of the stops on this year’s Jefferson County Farm Tour.
It was a gift, estimated at $25,000, that WSU was happy to accept, said extension office director Laura Lewis.
“We’re hoping this is the first of many heritage livestock breeds we’ll be able to bring back to the peninsula,” she said.
She hasn’t heard of anyone else on the Olympic Peninsula who has this particular breed and said she knows of only three others in the state who have red poll cattle.
She said there are approximately only 1,000 of the cows left and they are listed as “threatened” by the Livestock Conservancy.
“There’s very few breeding animals left,” she said.
The herd was donated by Mike and Joanne Stewart, who own and operate Stewart Cattle Co. at Swanson Farm in Mt. Vernon.
Lewis said the Stewarts donated the herd while slowing down work on their ranch and preparing for retirement.
The 26-plus-acre Jefferson County farm was donated to WSU in 2012 and has since been used as a research space for germplasm maintenance and breeding.
WSU and the Organic Seed Alliance have partnered to develop a community gene bank system at Twin Vista Ranch that is focused on selecting, screening and managing organic plant genetic resources for the region.
The farm will be one of the stops on the 14th Annual Jefferson County Farm Tour, Sept. 17-18, drawing thousands of local residents and visitors to the farming region of the Olympic Peninsula for farm tours, live music, educational demonstrations and kids activities.
Included in the weekend of events are 14 farms that highlight food, fiber, cider, oysters and more.
Farms featured on this year’s farm tour include Alpenfire Orchard and Cider, Dirt Rich School at Compass Rose Farms, Finnriver Orchard &Cider Garden, Short’s Famly Farm, Marrowstone Vineyards, Onatrue Farm, One Straw Ranch, Organic Seed Alliance, Rosebud Ranch, Springrain Farm and Orchard, Sunfield Farm &Waldorf School, Taylored Fibers and Wilderbee Farm.
The Farm Tour is open to the public with a suggested donation of $10 per carload. No one is turned away for lack of funds.
On Sept. 16 is the Honky Tonkin’ Pie Party Kickoff starting at 6 p.m. at the Chimacum Grange, 9572 Rhody Drive, Chimacum.
A map showing the farm locations is available at the event’s sponsors: WSU, the Port Townsend Farmers Market, Port Townsend Food Co-Op, The Corner, Jefferson Land Trust, The Leader and Carl’s Building Supply Inc.
For more information and tickets, visit www.tinyurl.com/unstoppablefarmtour or call Farm Tour Coordinator Aba Kiser at 360-531-0312.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5550, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.