2022 was a year FULL of big news and growth spurts. We take the time to write them down for a number of reasons. Most importantly, we want you to feel connected to island farming and all that agriculture entails. As you read on, take note of all the ways Lum Farm enriched your island life: the events you attended; groceries you were able to buy at the farmstand; meals at island restaurants; maybe you even scored our chevre or ground pork at the Food Bank. Island farms and your island life -- it's all connected!
So, without further ado, let's look at 2022
Annie would like to be your tour guide through this year-end review.
The Best News: A Long Term Lease with the San Juan County Land Bank
Lum Farm received an exciting boost of security (and relief) as our proposal for the long term lease with the San Juan County Land Bank was accepted. We've held a year-to-year lease since 2019 while the Land Bank worked with the public to zero in on the best way to keep Coffelt Farm Preserve in working agriculture. When the official call for proposals went out we submitted ours, and it was formally accepted in July. We now look forward to 10 years of farming Coffelt Preserve (pending a review at the five year mark).
The focus on locally-grown and quality food has kept us in cahoots with many local chefs. Here’s a list of island restaurants and pop-ups that featured Lum Farm products in 2022: The Barnacle, Buck Bay Shellfish Farm, Chimayo, Farm to Ferry, Hogstone, Inn at Ship Bay, Island Hoppin’ Brewery, Kingfish Inn, Mijitas, Monti, New Leaf Cafe, Orcas Island Distillery, Orcas Island Winery, Orcas Village Store, Pasta Underground, Roots, Seabird Bakeshop and the Whale and Cabbage.
Our meats, cheese and ice cream were sold in 2021 through Island Market, Orcas Village Store, Girl Meets Dirt, the Orcas Food Coop and our own farmstand.
We posted this pork rack photo online and had an island chef contact us mere moments later.
The Food Bank
One of the things we are most proud of is the amount of food we are able to supply to the Orcas Food Bank. Executive Director Amanda Sparks and crew are doing a remarkable job of finding funding that focuses on local farms, for which we are extremely grateful.
In 2022, we delivered to the Food Bank:
- Over 1490 lbs. of meat (over 150% of 2021’s amounts)
- 92 dozen eggs, the majority of which were donated by our monthly egg subscribers. - 35 lbs. of chevre
Kalea and Noura wrapped and labeled a whole lotta chevre for the masses.
The Food Bank struggles to find sufficient freezer space (a challenge we know well ourselves). This year they were able to procure three chest freezers, which we installed here at the farm for Food Bank use only. We’re always glad when the Food Bank van rolls in, as it’s a reminder of the ways that we are able to support each other.
Kudos as well to Kaleidoscope Child Care Center, who also secured a grant focusing on locally-sourced protein and produce. We are thrilled that our meat is being included in the hot lunches provided to Kaleidoscope kids. Those kids are eating well!
Farming is an all-consuming business; just caretaking the land and animals is enough to keep everyone plenty busy. Farming on a preserve owned by the Land Bank adds an extra element as the public shares ownership of this space. Luckily, community involvement and education are near and dear to our hearts.
We had a number of events this year with that goal of public interaction in mind. Perhaps the most enthusiastically received was “Baby Saturdays”. For five weekends in March and April, we moved our goat kids and lambs up to the north field. With the help of a few volunteers, we opened the gates to visitors.
Kicky McKickface was a surprisingly docile mama, and gladly shared her quadruplets with visitors.
All it took was one little post on facebook, and literally hundreds of folks flocked to the farm (pun intended). Together we snuggled babies and soaked up the sun after a particularly challenging island winter. It was a time of reconnection – with the new season, the land and each other. We plan to make this a yearly event, celebrating spring with our community in this way.
Caramel became the celebrity kid of the year. He was named by a Baby Saturday participant, and now lives his best life at a farm on Lopez Island.
Other events included the “Goat Baby Prediction Poll”, in which participants predicted which of our dairy goats would be the first to give birth – guessing the date and how many kids. Kudos to Nancy Stillger for choosing BBG Smooth (yes, that’s her name), who had twins (Smoosh and Gigi) on January 25. (Goat Baby Prediction Blog Post)
As you can see, our petting zoo kids of all species specialize in hugs.
The annual San Juan County Farm Tour was another big event. We were better prepared this year – and good thing, because we had somewhere around 700 people come through. There was cheese and ice cream tasting, the goat petting zoo, self-guided tours into the heart of the farm, and a sheepskin pop-up. We were on top of signage and volunteers, and the event went smoothly (no parking fiascos!). Click here for the Farm Tour wrap up post.
Ice cream samples and Crystal's smiling face were the best Farm Tour welcome ever.
We also provided Springtime Field Trips for island organizations supporting all ages of residents. We hosted island preschools and gradeschools, the Orcas Island Senior Center, and a group of teens from Compass Health. We invited a wool-focused Orcas Island Parks and Rec. class over for a shearing demonstration, and provided a spot for the OIPR's summer art camp. We hosted the Road Scholars "educational travel" organization, leading tours of traveling seniors who asked the BEST questions. With all these field trips and the Baby Saturdays, we bumped up against constraints of what we can afford time and employee-wise. Even with all the visits, we STILL didn’t get to everyone we’d hoped.
Thank you to Brook Meinhardt for this lovely photo from the kids' art camp table.
The Lum Farm Dairy
Lum Farm Cheesemaker Crystal, makin' Bloomin' Hazels
Our goat dairy continued to be a source of change and excitement in 2022. Perhaps the most heralded event of 2022 for Lum Farm was the unveiling of our Goat’s Milk Ice Cream!
It was just last June that we introduced our ice cream to islanders. The ice cream features Lum Farm eggs, milk and chevre. For seasonal flavors, we haunted Skagit farmstands for blueberries and strawberries and spent afternoons picking blackberries. We realize that many folks haven’t had a chance to taste ice cream THIS fresh… it makes a difference!
Clockwise, starting upper left: Maggie, Shannon, Amy, Lucy, Mandy and Crystal obviously had a terrible time picking blackberries together.
Aside from reprimands from our favorite business consultant warning us about eating up the profits, we’ve been thrilled with how this new product has been received. Visit this blog post for a deeper dive into how it all started.
An Ice Cream photo shoot was really just an excuse for more taste-testing.
Mandy drew portraits of a favorite goat for each flavor. We've already chosen who is getting their portrait done for the next new flavor.
Ice cream wasn’t the only new item in our dairy. In 2022 we installed a brand new milking stanchion. It involved a little remodeling and a lot of training of goats (and milkers). Now that we’ve all got the hang of it, the milking process is much more streamlined, not to mention ergonomically friendly.
In which Mandy finds herself in a tight spot while training the goats to trust the new milking platform.
For the first time, Amy took our cheese off island to showcase our dairy at the Seattle Cheese and Meat Festival, sponsored by the Washington State Cheesemakers Association (WSCA). Our chevre, feta and cajeta were very well received, and we've had a number of inquiries since (even though we currently don't have the capacity to sell off-island). The WSCA chose Lum Farm for their Cheesemaker Member Spotlight for the month November, which was a sweet little boost.