Gone are the days where you had to travel deep into the countryside to find local produce. Now a simple trip to Community Food Co-op can yield locally produced organic goods. This remarkable modern convenience is available thanks to the hard work of local farmers. Out in the county, incredible people are dedicating their lives to an amazing cause – increasing the sustainability and strength of our food supply chain.
As I journeyed out to Spring Time Farm, the weather was like most mid-winter days in Whatcom County. It could be summed up in one word: gray. The clouds were gray, the road was gray, the rain was gray and even the Sumas and Nooksack Rivers had their own silvery-gray tint. If the wind itself could have a color, I imagine its bite would leave small gray marks.
It was this wind that turned my hand to ice as I stepped out of my car at the end of Spring Time’s gravel driveway. I found myself amidst a cluster of old dairy farm buildings and a lovely, classic Washington farmhouse. Up to this moment I had only been in contact with Sarah Robinson, but it was her partner, Nick Spring, that I met first.
Shaking hands with Nick, I noticed that he was considerably taller than I had pictured him. He held himself with the relaxed slouch of someone caught between moments of weed pulling and crop tending. The soft, friendly smile paired well with Sarah’s energetic, heartwarming grin. Immediately, it was obvious that these were exactly the type of people from whom I hoped I was buying my local vegetables and flowers.
I was taken on a tour through the populated area of their recently purchased 37 acres. The rain was absent for now, but you could feel the water pooling overhead. As their dog, Henry, bounded over puddles and trampled the clover they had planted for ground cover, I got a taste of the work this couple have been putting into their farm and what they have planned. In just a year, they have already constructed two large double-layer poly greenhouses. One is used as their propagation shed and currently holds the very first lettuce crops of the season. The other is already lined with what will soon be thousands of colorful flowers.
As I watched Sarah split dahlia tubers (a necessary yearly task as the bulbs multiply), Nick filled me in on the wonders of farm life and the foundation behind their dream. Born a second generation Italian-American, Nick’s grandparents owned the original Spring Time Farm well before Nick was born. His father showed no interest in farming, but a generation later Nick and Sarah have taken up the task of renewing the Spring Time Farm name while continuing the tradition of hand grown goods.
In her black Carhartt overalls, working methodically on the dahlia tubers, it was hard to believe Sarah was as new to this as she claimed. Occasionally, Nick would help her with a particularly large or hardy root ball and it was easy to see how their partnership flourished.
Nick has a decade of farming experience, but it was Sarah that established flowers and bouquets as a valid and profitable part of their business. Focusing mostly on organic spring flowers, Spring Time Farm brings vibrancy and beauty to a time of year normally starved of color in the north.
The majority of the five acres they will cultivate this season will go towards vegetables, the bulk of their business. From “Arugula to Zucchini,” a phrase Nick readily admits to hearing from someone else, Nick and Sarah manage anywhere from 60 to 80 individual vegetable species.
Their diverse selections come from their pasts, which means they sometimes carry less common Japanese vegetables from Nick’s time farming in Japan. Nick told me of a time he tried growing Spigariello because of his Italian heritage but, like any business, more niche products have to make way for vegetables that are always high in demand like carrots and lettuce.
Cultivating Spring Time Farm has been a lot of work, but it has also been incredibly rewarding. Nick and Sarah assured me that they love their farming life and are excited to continue to grow and expand. Unquestionably, I believe in them. With Nick and Sarah providing the brains and endless hours of toil, and Henry providing the undeniably good looks, Spring Time Farm is carving out their own chunk of the local, organic food market.
As I left the farm I sang loudly along to the radio. The sun broke through the clouds and magically my world of gray became a world of color and beauty.