November 3-4, 2018
“At Carnation Farms, we celebrate delicious and nutritious food produced in a sustainable manner by providing inspirational and educational experiences that positively affect health, the environment, and local economies. We are here to develop and inspire the next generation of food citizens and grow new farmers.”
Man, did we have a BLAST rediscovering this local, nationally (maybe World) renowned farm!! Carnation Farms’ is a historic 818-acre property in Carnation, Washington. It has its origins in Kent, Washington in 1889 and the first farm building still stands! I encourage you to check out their website, carnationfarms.org for more of their truly interesting history as well as the current programs offered!!
Handsome Hubby randomly discovered the “Celebration Of Farming And Food” event online when reading about local “farm to table” offerings. At first we simply considered the dinner which was available as a stand alone option. Yet when we checked out their website, the estate, what they are doing in the surrounding communities and their schedule of the (what we later learned was their inaugural) “Celebration Of Farming And Food” event – a 24 hour, fun filled extravaganza- we decided to GO FOR IT!!
This was the “Program of Activities” we were launched into: “Light” Lunch,
Check in (overnight, lodge like accommodations), Afternoon Sessions
consisting of 1) Carnation Farms Historical Tour with Elbridge Stuart, 2)
Cooking Class with Chef Caprial Pence, 3) Whiskey Tasting with Westland Distillery, 4) Interactive Flatbread Making Session with Grand Central Bakery, 5) Microbrew Tasting with Pike Brewing Company, 6) Pig Butchery Demonstration with Falling River Meats, and 7) Malting and Single Malt Single Hop Beer Tasting with our region’s largest craft malter, Skagit Valley Malting. It was NOT a choose two to four, or so program. No – each participant was invited to them all, held one right after the next, right after the other!!! Pheewww!! I have to sheepishly admit, we didn’t have the adequate gumption to attend each and every one. The sessions that we did join in on, however, were Most Excellent!
Also, throughout our sequestering, we were encouraged to participate in a Scavenger Hunt of historical and odd ball facts which had us wandering all across the grounds and learning more about the farm – quite fun!
The evening’s “Celebration of Farming and Food” five course, Farm To Table Dinner was prepared by James Beard award winning and Carnation Farms Director of Culinary, Chef Caprial Pence, Chef and Restauranteur, John Pence – Co-host of PBS series, “Cooking With Friends And Family”, Chef Niels Brisbane – Culinary Director of The Bread Lab/Canlis Research Kitchen and one of Eater’s 2018 “Young Guns” of the United States, and Chef Mitch Mayers of Seattle’s Sawyer Restaurant – two time Cochon 555 winner and one of Zagat’s 2018 “Eight Under The Radar Chefs To Know In Seattle”. It was creative, (lengthy), delicious and filling!! We also thoroughly enjoyed Library wines from Long Shadows, Dusted Valley, Eternal and Corliss! Before our dinner there was a Silent Auction and during our meal, the Awesome, King 5 Environmental Reporter, Alison Morrow (whom we had the good fortune to sit next to) MC’d a “raise the paddle” opportunity to benefit Carnation Farms’ “Rooted” program. We also donated two magnums of Corliss wine which fetched $750 for their cause!!
The “After Party” – oh My Lord, The After Party!!! In a lovely estate cottage there was mellow music provided by Sheryl Wiser and in another endearing bungalow, late night snacks by Chef Caprial and a Fireside Chat with Elbridge Stuart (who wore a “smoking jacket”) – “The Untold Secrets of Carnation Farms”, with whiskey from Westland Whiskey. And, bourbon soaked marshmallow s’mores!!!!!
Upon arising on Sunday morning, we took a Trail Hike led by Hannah Cavendish-Palmer to Carnation Farms Gazebo, a scenic lookout and really enjoyed the crisp, fall morning (and exercise). Not only did we encounter the Gazebo, but came upon the trout pond, too. Two movies have been filmed in these woods, “Captain Fantastic” and “Lucky Them!!
To culminate our loaded, fun filled twenty-four hours, we were served a Farm to Table Brunch provided by Lisa Dupar Catering! Just WOW!! We met some wonderful folks and so look forward to participating in more Carnation Farms programs and to supporting their missions!!
I will close with some information in hopes of bringing awareness to the Carnation Farms “Rooted” program for teens aged 14-17, which has as its focus, “growing new farmers for a more sustainable future. ”This educational endeavor has a curriculum that offers training and hands on experience in the full-spectrum of sustainable farming from seed to market. The training includes experience with sustainable vegetable, fruit, grain, and livestock production.
The full-time program takes place at Carnation Farms where new farmers have the opportunity to live, rent-free, in shared on-site housing. A bi-weekly stipend of $1300 is paid and the farmers participate in Carnation Farms’ educational programming, such as farm camps, culinary classes, weekend farm days, markets and school field trips. Their curriculum is based on the University of California Santa Cruz’s Farm & Garden Apprenticeship program with additional training and content specific to our growing region. Curriculum topics include: Soils. Growing Methods, Botany and Crop Culture, Animal Husbandry, Environmental Stewardship, Pest and Disease Management, Marketing and Business Acumen and Social Issues in Agriculture. They also learn to develop business and strategic plans, basic accounting and record-keeping, time management, consumer interaction to generate sales, land acquisition, culinary preparations of farm products, regulations, food systems, public policy, and labor. Some topics are taught by local experts either on-site or via local field trips. Operating and repairing typical farm vehicles, equipment, structures, and tools are part of the training, as well as implement purchase, cleaning, and storage.
After the seven month phase one, “farmers-in-training” develop business plans for their own small-scale farms. Following approval of the plans, participants are provided the opportunity to farm through another calendar year at Carnation Farms, with the use of land, farm equipment, and shared housing provided rent-free – AND to mentor the new farmers-in-training! The age of new farmers is upon us!