The PCC Farmland Trust organized a tour of the farm at Nash’s Organic Produce on Jan 16th. Located in Sequim, WA, Nash’s is one of the biggest and most successful organic growers in the state. I went on the tour with my pal Emily who I met when we both volunteered together at Marra Farm.
I was really excited to see Nash’s because I have bought lots of their produce at PCC and at the Ballard Farmers Market. The farm is big, covering over 400 acres, so I was interested to see how they make it work and still keep things organic and sustainable.
Visiting in the winter, it was a little hard to imagine how things must be at the height of the growing season – it was a bit bare and muddy but we did get to see the overwintering brassicas (cabbage, kale, etc). Our tour leader was Scott Chichester, Vegetable Production Manager at Nash’s. He had lots of interesting things to say. What I found most interesting was the difference between this type of operation compared to all the little (10 acres or smaller) farms I’ve been visiting. Nash’s seems to be walking the line between large-scale and small-scale farming. They use lots of tractors and machinery for efficient planting and harvesting, and they use some organic pesticide sprays. Scott said this was something he “had to get over” when he first started there. With 400 acres they can’t do everything by hand the way the really small guys do.
Some awesome things that they are doing at Nash’s include their pork program and the grain they are growing. These are both great because they are keeping down their inputs to the farm. They grow their own grain to feed their livestock as well as turning the hogs out into harvested vegetable fields to let them forage and spread their manure directly on the beds. The fields then have to sit for a period of time to let the manure age, and then they plant them with more crops. The whole nutrient cycle is kept on-farm instead of importing livestock feed and fertilizer. Then they also have the pigs slaughtered directly on the farm and sell the meat locally as whole- or half-hog packages.
They also sell their grain directly to consumers, which is great because it’s relatively difficult to find locally-grown grain. Emily and I both bought some of the Nash’s hard red wheatberries after the tour and ground them into flour right there in the farm store. It will make some delicious local whole wheat bread!
Check out more pictures of the piggies, veggies, etc at my flickr site!