Twelve Recommendations for a Fun Farm Stay in Skagit Valley, Washington

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12 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A FUN FARM STAY IN SKAGIT VALLEY, WASHINGTON
By Linda Kissam, “Food, Wine & Shopping Diva”

 

ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Hear about the farm, garden, and foodie scene in Skagit Valley, Washington. Featured guests include Big Blend writer Linda Kissam “Food, Wine & Shopping Diva,” Blake Vanfield – Director of Genuine Skagit Valley, and Linda Versage – Blanchard Mountain Farm. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on SoundCloud, PodBean, or Facebook.


Next time you’re planning to visit Washington State, take a road trip through the rural part of the state. Experience, like I did, “the other side” of Washington via a farm stay. The northern part of Washington in Skagit Valley is my recommendation. There are farms that you can visit, tour, and stay at. Buy locally grown products to relish and enjoy. There are tons of opportunities to eat local, taste unique beer, and really savor some exceptional distinctive cheese. I even have a “BEST EVER” pizza recommendation!

Maybe the coolest part of the region is that everything you want to visit is just a few minutes drive from each other.

More than 90 percent of farms in the U.S. are classified as small, with a gross cash farm income of $250,000, or less. Skagit County is known for its agricultural products and agriculture remains one of the most important industries in the area. The 1,000-plus farms in the county occupy more than 9% of its total land mass. Notably, a majority of the total number of farms in Skagit County range in size from 1 to 50 acres.

The definition of farms includes more than just cows. Skagit Valley farms also include nurseries and greenhouses, cheese shops, beekeepers, and blueberry farms. In order for a farm to be counted by the US Department of Agriculture, it must have at least $1,000 in annual product sales or have the potential for $1,000 or more annual sales.

Family and small farms are vital to our economy and well-being as a nation. Not only do they support the competitiveness and sustainability of rural and farm economies, but they also protect and enhance natural resources and the environment and encourage rural populations.

It’s hard to narrow down the list of amazing things to do on your farm stay in Washington’s Skagit Valley, but these are my recommendations for a first-time farm stay.

LODGING
Blanchard Mountain Farm Stay – Blanchard Mountain Farm has a one-bedroom furnished guest house with a fully stocked kitchen, to rent by the night for farm stays. It is close to wonderful foodie-worthy eateries, galleries, shops, beaches, and other farms (including the tulip farms) in the Bow and Edison area. Literally everything you will be visiting is under 15 minutes from the guest house. The farm is just 30 minutes from Bellingham, LaConner, and Anacortes and 15-20 minutes to Burlington and Mount Vernon. The calendar is managed on AirBnB. It was, for me, one of the best small farm stays I have experienced. Hosts Linda and Walter make it a memorable experience way beyond handing you the keys to the guest house. Ask for a personal tour of the farm.

GARDEN TOURS
Christianson’s Nursery & Greenhouse – Wake up and smell the roses! For those of us who love gardens, visiting local nurseries is a must. This destination garden has earned numerous awards and achievements over the years. Using restructured old buildings, salvaged glass, and other materials, it is a thoughtfully curated space for all to enjoy through a walkabout. Plan at least an hour here.

The nursery offers a wide variety of common and uncommon plants, garden accessories, antiques & gifts, and the largest selection of roses and perennials in Northwest Washington.

They had me at the rose selection, probably you too.

La Conner Gardens – Nothing is quite as fun as visiting a picturesque farmstand in Washington. At its peak, this smallish Mom and Pop stand grows naturally using organic practices and is filled to the brim with all kinds of local produce and flora like freshly harvested green beans, Amethyst beans, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, beets, zucchini, onions, garlic, kale. It’s a yummy and distinctive experience.

Everyone should come home with at least one bunch of their specialty gourmet garlic. Varieties include Inchelium Red (softneck), Chesnok Red, Romanian Red (hardneck), and Elephant Garlic. Tuck one of these beauties in your suitcase! The gourmet bulbs are available for about $15 per pound or $20 per pound for planting-size bulbs.

RESTAURANTS
Nell Thorn Waterfront Bistro & Bar – All you have to do is show up and enjoy. The food, staff, and waterfront view are remarkable. Dine instead or outside. The exclusive waterfront location offers a fresh, daily menu of artisan-made, sustainable, farm-to-table Northwest fare, craft cocktails, fine wines, and microbrews on tap. Anything you order here is going to be good AND there is off-street private parking

Ingredients are sourced from local family farms and are organic whenever possible. Do a bit of Main Street shopping before or after your meal. Expect kitschy to sophisticated shops.

Chuckanut Manor Seafood & Grill – Chuckanut Manor is a historic culinary roadhouse on scenic Chuckanut Drive. It overlooks Samish Bay and the San Juan Islands. Think steaks, seafood, and fresh oysters featured on a local menu. This is classic Pacific Northwest cuisine at an awe-inspiring location. Enjoy the stunning views of Samish Bay and the San Juan Islands over a glass of premium wine, an entrée, and stellar service.

With a classic upscale roadhouse feel, come as you are and when the weather allows, dine on the outdoor patio for some of the best al fresco dining in the Pacific Northwest.

  • Blanchard Mountain Farm
    Blanchard Mountain Farm

FARM VISITS
Blanchard Mountain Farm – Located off Chuckanut Drive near Edison, Blanchard Mountain Farm grows WSDA-certified organic vegetables, unique herbs, cut flowers, and specialty crops, including many Italian varieties. Owners Linda Versage and Walter Brodie are committed to enhancing their farm’s ecosystem and sharing it wildlife and visitors. They share it with visitors through a farm stand, a 1-bedroom guest house, and occasional education programs.

Prior to farming, Linda’s previous career was as an environmental educator, and she taught outdoors. The farm is now her classroom, and she loves giving tours to visitors, chefs, and children.

Schuh Farm – This family-owned large farmstand features the best pies and produce around the area. It’s a delicious stop that provides fresh produce, pies, baked goods, fresh fruit shakes, canned goods, eggs, plant starts, flowering baskets, and fresh flower bouquets. The espresso hut on the property bangs out some very tasty brew.

The owners grow seven varieties of berries and offer U-Pick. Corn is picked and offered from August through October. Pickling cucumbers are available for the entire month of August. July and August bring forth crave-worthy stone fruit direct from the Yakima Valley. In the fall, get your fill of pumpkins, squash, and gourds.

Bow Hill Blueberries – Call ahead or go online to go on a tour of this small family-owned and charming farm. Ask which (or if all) of the five tour types are available (starting at $10.00): Family, Organic Agriculture Intensive, Epicurean, School/Camp, and Club. All include a walking tour, tasting, and complimentary ice cream or popsicle, but each focuses on and highlights different aspects of the farm and process. The blueberry juice in a jug is to die for. Seriously.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
Garden Path Fermentation – Certainly one of a kind, Garden Path Fermentation makes hyperlocal beer, mead, cider, and wine only using ingredients sourced from their own backyard. Exclusively uses Skagit-grown grain, fruit, and honey, Pacific Northwest hops and ferments all products in oak with 100% native Skagit yeast. Fascinating owners. Great story. Tasty products.

Samish Bay Cheese – Samish Bay Cheese is owned and operated by Suzanne and Roger Wechsler. Their 200-acre farm has a mixed herd, mostly of Milking Shorthorns. Grass-green fields are well-suited to organic farming.

They use their own milk to make cheese, yogurt, and Kefir. Samish Bay Cheese is Certified Organic. They have beef, pork, lamb, and veal as well, all raised on the farm. Wine, cider, beer, juice, honey, jams, and a host of local artisan and complementary products in their shop. Highly recommend this stop. If you can’t take the tasty treats home that day, they ship.

Terramar Brewstillery – Taproom, cidery, speakeasyrestaurant, BEST pizza (IMO) in WA. Casual fun inside or outside in this Edison venue. Dog-friendly outside on the patio. If you can’t find something here to rave about, you need an attitude adjustment. This is an adult oasis while being kid friendly.

The owner created this destination out of nothing into something truly praiseworthy. Obviously, I loved this place and HIGHLY recommend you try it and sample as many libations as you can…over several visits. Things are ever-changing here, be part of the wave of success.

Clamming – Washington’s beaches provide clamming fun for everyone and it is a year-round affair. In the Skagit Valley, there’s an abundance of delicious shellfish species to discover. To find a beach and time of year to harvest clams, mussels, and oysters contact the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. Visit www.AllInGoodTaste.info

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About the Author:

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits.

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