CourtesyRiver Run Farm.
Horses Bill and Linda plowing a field at River Run Farm.

Like beer and really good produce? New farmshare pilot partners with Ballard brewery

A farm from the Olympic Peninsula is piloting a farmshare program and beer imbibers will be happy with one of their pickup sites.

Starting in June, River Run Farmers will be dropping off packed boxes off fresh produce for over 150 farmshare members in Ballard, University District, Phinney, Madrona and Queen Anne. But Ballard farmshare members might also be filling their beer growlers because the farmshare pickup is at Stoup Brewing (1108 NW 52nd St.).

Co-owner, Lara Zahaba, pitched the idea of the brewery being a pickup spot to River Run Farms after participating in the farmshare program last year. So members and non-members alike will have the opportunity to talk with farmers at least one night a week when they drop by for a pint or to pick up their produce. There is even talk of Stoup making a special brew with something from the farm and food truck vendors using the produce in their cuisine.

River Run Farm started their community-supported agriculture (CSA) last year and it supported at least 80 members in Seattle. CSAs are designed to allow members outside of the farm to “buy a share” of the harvest through the season. The funds from members ensure they have produce all season while supporting the farm and the farmers harvesting it.

“What we are trying to do is connect people to their food source; to bring folks closer to the land where their food is grown and to the farmers who are growing the crops. We want all farmshare members to understand that they are a significant part of the farm,” said Anna Bunk, coordinator for Farmshare.

“I am looking forward to getting a box of fresh organic vegetables every week. Knowing that the produce was in the ground only hours before, and harvested by people that I know and talk to, will make me want to cook more,” River Run Farmshare member and first-time CSA member, Kelly Skillingstead.

River Run Farm is located along the Dungeness River near Sequim, Wash. The group of five farmers grows mainly vegetables but also berries and flowers on the 12-acre farm. They plan to grow staple vegetables, including potatoes, tomatoes, beets, carrots, kale, chard and a litany of other plants. They especially pride themselves in the quality of their leafy greens.

“Sequim is right in the rain shadow, so it allows us to grow leafy greens like kale, lettuce and chard really well. When we go to the farmer markets we see everyone has those, but we like to think that ours are really good,” bragged, River Run farmer, Elizabeth Bragg.

There are also a herd of cattle living on the farm, which Bragg said helps keep the soil healthy and viable for growing the best produce possible.

Keeping with more natural farming practices, lead farmer, Noah Bresler, uses horses, Linda and Bill, for cultivating the soil and weeding.

“Using horses to cultivate our fields and supporting a herd of cattle for soil fertility are not the most economical options. But our members are committed to what we are doing and the value of our produce. We are committed to a paradigm shift on food and farming, one that prioritizes health, beauty, and the future over short-term economics,” said Bresler.

Bresler has been farming for the last ten years.

“That's part of our philosophy: using nature as a guide with less impact in the land -- just good people farming good produce,” said Bragg.

Bragg is originally from Bellingham and has been on the farm since last May. She moved there after living in London and deciding against a career in law. In fact all five of the farmers come form different background and had to learn to farm by working on other farms.

“What we are trying to do is build a community of good food in every community we go to. So in Seattle, we want people to feel like they are part of the ‘farm-ly’ as we call it…. We want to be the backbone for peoples’ kitchens. We want our vegetables to be the meat and potatoes of your week.”

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