With spring comes all things farming as soils warm and daylight lengthens. For the Wright Brothers Farm in Ferndale, that means crop planning, composting, and de-winterizing the pump as the brothers prepare for a third season of growing organic vegetables.
Not that the brothers—Craig, Chris, and Mark—are new to this. The farm has been in the family since the early 1900s, originally owned and operated as a cedar shingle mill by their great-grandparents. Passing to their grandfather who also farmed it for a time, it later passed to his two sons, who created an organic vegetable farm known as Evergreen Station. (Ferndale residents might remember it.) In 1971, it was one of the earliest organic farms in the state.
“We were part of the first farmers market organization [where downtown Bellingham’s WTA bus station is located] in the late ’70s,” says Craig, the oldest Wright brother. The boys grew up in Ferndale, working on the farm for their two uncles. But in those days, people bought their lettuce from the grocery store, and marketing organic produce wasn’t an easy venture.
Organic farming still isn’t easy—especially when a pandemic throws a wrench into your second season. But demand for local organic vegetables has come a long way since the ’70s. Following Evergreen Station’s market gardening model, the Wright Brothers farm offers CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) season subscriptions to individuals and also supplies area restaurants. Last summer’s CSA subscriptions carried off without a hitch, but restaurant accounts shrank as eateries shuttered with the pandemic. That was tough for business, Craig says. The farm supplies Semiahmoo Resort and Seattle’s Terra Plata, Omega Ouzeri, and Vios.
The pandemic forced the family to rethink this season. They’ve decided to expand CSA subscriptions within Ferndale, Bellingham, and certain Seattle neighborhoods. “We love restaurants, and the farm will continue to serve restaurateurs, but given everything with the pandemic, we just don’t know how that will go,” Craig says.
Luckily, the pandemic has boosted interest in cooking, nutrition, and goods delivered straight to porches—and that’s what the Wright Brothers offers if you live within their delivery zone. This free service makes them a bit different. They also allow you to choose your vegetables each week. I love these two perks of their subscription, and I’m signing up for a third season.
The farm produces 40 different crops, including lettuce, kale, carrots, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, Asian greens, and green beans. Craig plans to increase customer communication this season with a regular newsletter and recipes tucked into boxes.
The farm also hopes to offer tours, as the pandemic allows. “We want to share our experience of growing this great-tasting produce and how we do it,” Craig says. But for now, worker and customer safety take priority. Stay tuned.
Although the brothers primarily reside in the Seattle area (their mom lives on the farm), they remember fondly the years spent working for their uncles. That’s what got them thinking about revitalizing the farm in 2015. With grown or mostly grown kids, they decided to create a family venture that allowed family members to contribute if they wanted to. “A farm needs lots of different skillsets,” says Craig. “So each person contributes the way they want for as long as they want.”
Craig and his nephew Matt run day-to-day operations together, with Matt serving as farm manager and living fulltime on the farm. Craig lives there during growing season. Matt builds the beds, spreads the compost, and seeds the trays for the new germinator being put to work this spring. With a background in accounting and law, Craig handles crop planning and seed sourcing, along with accounts, communication, and the website. He also works alongside Matt.
Chris, middle brother and Matt’s dad, comes on weekends to serve as technical advisor. With expertise in lean manufacturing, he handles things like electrical wiring, irrigation systems, and hoop house design. Mark, a King 5 news anchor, helps on weekends as he can. The younger generation, the cousins, work in the fields as they’re available or contribute other skills like accounting and digital expertise.
The farm delivers CSA shares in Whatcom County and Seattle, including to any individual address within Ferndale City limits, Bellingham’s 98225 area, and Seattle neighborhoods of Ballard, Capitol Hill, Montlake, North Seattle, and Mercer Island.
If you live outside a delivery area, you can arrange box pick-up at a designated address. Bellingham’s locations are in WWU, Columbia, and Cornwall neighborhoods (all 98225). If you live outside Ferndale’s city limits, pick up directly from the farm. In Seattle, pick up from one of the neighborhoods listed (find details on the website).
The subscription season runs mid-June through September. Sign up on the website and choose from three sizes, either a Farmers Choice Box or Your Choice Box. Subscriptions are available now until they run out and for a prorated price, if that’s after the season starts.