Former Islander takes a Chance on Serendipity Farm
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Written by Theresa Collier
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 16:39
"The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way" is a fitting description for Serendipity Farm, which is located in the heart of Quilcene, Washington and owned by Chris Llewellyn and her family. Nine years ago, Chris left her life on Bainbridge Island and started anew on forty-six acres of farmland surrounded by the snow-capped Olympic Mountains.
Growing up on rural Bainbridge Island almost fifty years ago, Chris Llewellyn was no stranger to farming. Her grandfather had a farm in Renton Valley, long before it became home to strip malls and Boeing factories. On Bainbridge Island she grew cut flowers and sold them to Town & Country Thriftway for many years until the island grew too suburban for her farming roots.
Chris looks much younger than her actual age as she shoulders on a frame backpack holding her sleepy young grandson, who has been napping in the greenhouse. Trailing her are her other three grandchildren, who are playing in meadow grass that is up to their waists. "I walk so many miles each day on this farm that I can't keep track," she says. She is multi-tasking - farm-style - being a farmer, mother, grandmother and business manager, all at once.
Although Chris Llewellyn has farmed this land for just over nine years, the land had been a working farm since 1805 when it was an original homestead. Chris's daughter and her family also reside on the farm in a Northwest-style house that cost $28,000 to build, thanks to their resourcefulness in using mostly reclaimed materials and their own labor. Now, complete with fourteen horses, one hundred chickens, a roving gaggle of ducks, and several greenhouses, Serendipity Farm is truly a family enterprise. Chris purchased her farm land outright and hopes to preserve it in perpetuity.
Unlike other Jefferson County farmers, Chris and her family believe that their farm should be available to people to use as a recreation resource. They have made trails surrounding their farm so riders can ride their horses away from roads. Forty percent of the farmland is in conservation reserve. "So much conservation land restricts public access. People and conservation should go hand in hand," Chris says, "Property should not be exclusive to just the owner."
Chris also voices concern about the aging demographics of local farmers. "The average age of a farmer in Jefferson County is sixty-four. We're hoping to work with Jefferson County Conservation Futures to provide income in an endowment for retiring farmers." Hopefully the new generation of farmers such as her daughter and son-in-law will keep the farm financially viable as communities continue to support local, organic produce.
Walking to one of the greenhouses filled with plant starts, we smell the heady scent of oregano and herbs, and see starts of beans, beets, tomatoes and salad greens. Results of hard work are everywhere we look - several greenhouses filled with rows of vegetable starts and tidy horse barns filled with clean horse stalls and organized tack. During our time there her crew has been bent over working the rows of salad greens, quickly picking that morning's order.
Since we were heading to the Chimacum Corner Store, we offered to deliver the farm's organic produce order. In exchange, Chris gave us each a dozen of her brown, cream and pale blue-colored fresh eggs from her coop. We delivered eight, gallon-sized rhubarb plant starts, a full tote of freshly picked and washed mixed salad greens and a case of bright red, glistening radishes, just pulled from the dirt in the greenhouse, hosed off and bundled.
Currently Serendipity Farm sells produce, eggs and plant starts at the Chimacum Corner Store in addition to operating a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program where members pay up front for weekly small or large shares offered each season. It also offer Kitsap customers the option of having produce delivered to their door on a weekly basis. In her weekly produce list, Chris writes about happenings and stories of life on the farm - a feature her customers look forward to each week.
Chris invites the public to join her on August 28th for a special fundraising Japanese-style farm dinner that will benefit a friend's family who lost their entire home and all of their possessions in the earthquake in Japan. Most of the food will be from the farm - the seafood will all be local - clams and oysters will be harvested by Chris and her family. It will be a fun, outdoor picnic with pony rides and games for kids. All are welcome - please contact the farm for more information.
Farm - phone: 360-765-0263
Chris - Cell: 206-708-5621
Mailing Address: PO Box 97
Street Address: 141 Cemetery Road
Quilcene, WA. 98376