Our target area is Enumclaw, Washington - about an hour southeast of Seattle. We've met several farmers in the area already who are part of the Enumclaw Sustainable Farmers Network. We're excited to become part of this supportive community growing and producing healthy food for the Puget Sound region.
So at 49 years young, why are we embarking on a new farming venture now - as most farmers at retiring around age 55 or so? Well, we haven't done all that really hard work that others farmers have spent a lifetime doing, our children are all grown and gone now, and we are not willing to give up a lifelong dream! We are passionate about growing good, healthy, nutrient dense food in healthy, mineral rich soil blending organic farming and a healthy ecological system. We want to care for the Earth, care for people and be a blessing to our community!
So, do we have any experience you might wonder.....
Joanie has done this ~
- Snohomish County 4-H – club and county leader; sewing and food – multiple projects at the club level. This is where my farming passion was reignited. Stepped down in 2005 and moved to King County in 2006. My hope is to be involved with 4-H again.
- Seattle Tilth – taken multiple classes over the years (including chicken classes) and completed their Comprehensive Organic Gardener course. Currently, I am a volunteer assistant for adult education classes (Intro to Permaculture and City Chickens 101).
- Cloud Mountain Farm, Everson – Farm Walk plus a few of their public class offerings (building hoop house, etc).
- Tilth Producer of Washington (individual member, which enables me to receive their quarterly newsletter and attend Farm Walks) – pruning blueberries, food hub, Cascadia mushrooms, on-farm compost, farm incubator program – and will be attending the GAP farm walk at Local Roots in August and the Burnt Ridge Nursery farm walk in September; just to name a few.
- Holistic Management International/Allan Savory – attended an all day workshop.
- Pacific Northwest Center for Holistic Management (Maurice Robinette and Sandra Matheson); financial management class.
- Mother Earth News Fair – we’ve attended each year since it began in Puyallup. So many educational workshops; learning from others and networking.
- Cascade Harvest Coalition (Sheryl Wiser) – Volunteered/Paid for the past couple of years delivering the Farm Guide from Skagit County through Island County and south to Thurston County. Learned a lot about networking with farmers through my association with CHC.
- WSU Extension, Small Farms, King Conservation District ~ attended several educational opportunities; continually learning more.
- Country Living Expo (Cattleman’s Winter School, Stanwood) attended for the past 2 years; a great learning opportunity on a variety of subjects.
- Focus on Farming Conference (Everett) – attended the conference the past 2 years; also a great learning opportunity.
- Completed a Permaculture Design Course with Toby Hemenway (author of Gaia’s Garden); a first step in learning what permaculture is and how to look at land and work with the environment and how things work together instead of imposing upon the land.
- Lots of reading and research plus trial-and-error for several growing seasons in Burien.
- Annette Cottrell (co-author of Urban Farm Handbook) – learned a little about mini-dairy goats (Nubians) in preparation to show Annette’s goats for a show this past June.
Blaine attended food preservation classes, built a library of relevant books and has participated in a few farm walks plus attended Country Living Expo and Mother Earth News Fair. He loves canning and he’s a really good pickle maker too!
Every season brings its tasks and hope of a future harvest. Very early spring pictured.
To the height of the season when you can barely keep up with the harvest and get some sleep too. Dawn to dusk days... A wonderful time of year!
Integrating chickens into your system to help with the farm work. Here the girls are helping clean up the area where strawberry plants were removed.
Utilizing a low growing clover in the garden pathways - each time the clover is cut, the plants send out a flush of nitrogen into the soil; benefiting the plants in the raised beds!
Whenever you're turning the soil, the chickens come running to help "clean" the soil (and leave a little fertilizer behind) - bugs and worms are first rate!
And then..... closing the chickens out of the garden during growing season!
Late fall, the girls are still busy when it's time to plant garlic!
Farm work gives you the opportunity to work as a team and learn new skills too.
Our first chicken coop we ever built!
Together, we're following our dream and believing God will provide Joy Bell Farm for us!
Blessed to be a blessing to others.
"The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy." Psalm 126:3