June 21, 2012

Skagit Valley Inspiration

We've been vacationing with family up in the Puget Sound this week. There are lots of things to love about this part of the country, but I was especially struck yesterday by the many small, family farms in the area that offer a wide variety of beautiful produce and appear to be thriving.

The barn at Pleasant Ridge Farm near Mt. Vernon

I've been coming up to this part of Washington for over twenty years and if you'd asked me in the past, I would have been able to tell you it was ag country, but I never quite appreciated the agricultural abundance the way I've found I do this year. It was fun yesterday identifying crops as we drove down the country roads, and we enjoyed stopping at a number of farm stands to chat with the farmers and pick out some fresh produce and specialty items, like farm-made bread & butter pickles and wildflower honey.

Bushels of dry beans at Pleasant Ridge Farm

My favorite spot by far was Pleasant Ridge Farm near Mt. Vernon. It was picturesque and there were two refrigerators full of tasty farm treats, plus bushels and bushels of good-looking fresh food to choose from, but it was the method of payment that stopped me in my tracks: the honor system.

Honor system explanation and plea for customer honesty

They must exist in California too, but the last time I encountered a pay-on-the-honor-system farm stand was 20+ years ago in a tiny town in Oregon, and that was just for flowers. Pleasant Ridge Farm was selling $7 gallons of apple cider, $5 glass jars of sauerkraut, packages of popcorn and soup beans, plus tons of fresh fruits and vegetables. In other words, there was a lot of merchandise in the shop to be running it purely on the honor system. The fact that it works makes me feel positive about humankind and gives me hope for the future.

Farmer out on his tractor as customers shop in the barn

Putting money in the locked cash box

We left the farm with an armload of potatoes, onions and asparagus, which we enjoyed later for dinner, plus a jar of pickles, a bag of popcorn, and a couple of bottles of apple cider for the car ride home. It reminded me a bit of our autumn excursions to Apple Hill, where there are similar opportunities to see a number of small family farms within a few miles of each other and buy just-picked veggies & fruit directly from the farmers. It was also a good reminder that I ought to seek out such opportunities closer to home more often.

1 comment:

  1. Makes me feel good too that it "works." The only honor system thing I was ever involved in was a little golf course on Vancouver Island with my brother up in Washington. Oh, there is also the Halloween candy bowl honor system, but I am pretty sure that one fails every year.

    It's nice to have your hopes in humanity renewed once in awhile. We recently had one of those moments with our neighbors across the street, but that's a story for another blog. Sounds like you are having a great time! Eat well!