Let us go back a few dozen years to see a young girl living in Southern California helping her parents with flowers and plants in their little yard. But what she really wanted was to grow something to eat! When the family would go on vacations she would look at the fields they were passing and try to figure out what was growing. One farm they passed had a sign that read: ‘From Field and Vine to Thee and Thine’, that saying stuck with her over the years. Her dad was able to get permission for her to have a garden on a vacant lot across from theirs, he helped her set up hoses for water and she was off and growing. At just 10 years old she would put the veggies she grew in her little red wagon and sell them to the neighbors to raise money to go to horse camp.
About this same time, in Colorado a young boy watched his father growing carnations for the flower industry. The greenhouses, long hours, and lots of chemicals used at the time cemented for this young boy ‘I never want to do anything like this’.
After Dean retired from the military they decided to settle in Olympia and start Jan’s farm. Looking for property was a difficult process for the realtors they worked with because the house was not the feature they we most concerned with. While they wanted a good location, the most important thing to Jan and Dean was not the house but the soil. Jan would take a small shovel with her and dig down into the soil around the property – she didn’t want rock or clay, but was looking for good workable soil. She found just that in the Nisqually Valley, nice river bottom sandy loam. The property was all in pasture at the time; it did have a barn, an old cement building and an irrigation well, but no house!
They have avoided all the chemical issues that Dean saw in the flower industry as a child by growing organically since the beginning, and their farm has been certified organic for all crops since 1994. They make their own compost and focus on feeding the soil. As Jan says “We feed the soil, that feeds the microbes, which feed the plants, that feed us!” They add trace minerals and natural nutrients to the soil to produce amazingly large vegetables. They encourage beneficial insects (did you know Jan is an entomologist?) and rotate crops to help minimize pests.
Even as Jan and Dean look toward retirement again (it has been 26 years farming after all) they still want their land to continue producing lush food for the community. They are training up lots of younger folks and working with a local non-profit to devise a plan to have the farm still be productive and support the community even after they retire.
Jan has fulfilled her dream of having a farm and providing great wholesome food for her neighbors in a really big way. She could not have done this for all these years without your amazing support! Please continue to support this amazing family farm by signing up for the CSA program (5 different pickup options), buying produce at the Co-Op, Farm Fresh Market or the Olympia Farmers Market (starting in April).
Looking back with amazement and forward with anticipation - Celeste (for Jan, Dean and all the Crew)