After an hour bus ride filled by speakers from USDA, WA Farm Bureau, Port of Chehalis and others we were met by 3 generations of the McMahan family.
Ross and his sons Wade and Joel detailed the family's 100+ years on the land, covered issues that challenge them and showed us both of their milking parlors...one robotic and one conventional.
A short ride and we were greeted by Justin Claibourn. Justin talked about the challenges of being a first generation farmer. They have had to clean and prepare their land, establish their crop, learn regulations, marketing and bookkeeping as well as IT.
After explaining their opertion and fielding questions, Justin invited participants to cut their own fresh lavender from the fields. The bus definitely had "floral accents" the rest of the trip!
Dave and Kathy talked about their fairly new endeavor of raising bees. (Kathy's father has been at it over 40 years.) They are currently at about 20 hives and plan to expand to 200.
Dave is enrolled in a Master Beekeeper program to increase his knowledge. They plan to remodel the old Glenoma post office on their property into a retail outlet for their honey products and supplies to support other bee keepers.
Chris Aldrich spoke to us about the challenges of regulations and the transitions their business has taken over the years, ending in Christmas Trees.
Jennifer Aldrich also spoke to the group prior to everyone being given a seedling to take home to plant for their own future Christmas Tree.
The weather played with us all day, but thankfully did most of the raining while we were on the bus, rather than at our 4 stops.
Our final stop was the home of Maureen Harkcom for a dinner made from Lewis County products. Lamb meatballs (Kirk Family Farm), roasted fingerling potatoes (Debbie's Veggies),
summer squash with tomatoes, bacon and feta cheese (Newaukum Valley Farm, Moir Country and Black Sheep Creamery) were exepertly prepared by chef Jeremy Wildhaber.
Salad, coleslaw (Olde Achers), grape juice (Jeremy's) all topped off by blueberry crisp (Aldrich Blueberry Farm) and whipped cream (Flying Cow) had everyone full. And nobody will forget Jeremy's a capella performance!!!!
Steve talked to the group about operations and issues at Pan American Blueberry Growers. Nice blueberry themed gift baskets were given to each participant.
Maynard, Kim and family talked about why they are organic and provided everyone the opportunity to see their robots milking the cows.
Josh Hyatt talked with tour members about the niche market they have developed working with restaurants. They provided the greens and tomatoes for our salad.
The final stop was dinner prepared entirely from products of Lewis County farms. All enjoyed Shepard's Pie, multiple vegetables, salad, Deviled Quail Eggs, and 3 Blueberry desserts. Everyone enjoyed the farm style meal with good company and went home with gifts of jellies