Farm captures natural essence in a bottle
A small natural household farm in Greenbank is rising herbs and turning them into important oils utilizing solar energy.
Whidbey Natural is owned and operated by Caitlin and Sam Stanton, a pair who moved to Whidbey Island from Portland, Oregon in 2017. They had been searching for property to begin a farm in Oregon however occurred upon a home with 10 acres of land on the island.
“Once we drove off the ferry we type of knew we had been house,” Caitlin stated. “It’s so lovely right here.”
The home was constructed by a Finnish household in 1914 and had fallen into disrepair when the Stantons bought it. The nice-grand nieces of the unique household owned it however they lived in Seattle and didn’t come to the island fairly often.
“That was nice for us as a result of we had been searching for acreage to begin a farm with the home in any situation,” Caitlin stated.
Earlier than transferring to Whidbey, each Caitlin and Sam had been within the maritime business. Caitlin was a deckhand for Foss tugboats and Sam was a chief engineer–or boat mechanic, in layman’s phrases.
In Portland, they’d a small backyard which Caitlin described as a “micro model” of their present farm. Utilizing Sam’s information as a chemistry main, the couple would distill herbs that their neighbors or native farms had grown. However their dream was to develop and distill their very own natural, regionally grown crops.
“We simply saved and saved and located this place, and we’re giving it a go,” Caitlin stated.
Sam was nonetheless engaged on tugboats till November of final yr. They stated 2022 was the primary yr they “went all in” on the farm.
Now their property is stuffed with lavender, rosemary, thyme, peppermint, calendula, chamomile and a number of other different medicinal herbs.
After harvesting the crops, the distillation course of begins with filling a drum with the herbs, then pushing steam by means of it at a low stress.
“The steam carries away the pure plant oils,” Sam defined.
The steam is then recondensed into two merchandise: pure important oil and hydrosol, a delicate botanical water. Whidbey Natural makes use of the hydrosol and important oils for scents and diffusers and sells them on their very own.
The oils taken from the crops are aged from three to 16 weeks, then are hand-bottled and prepared on the market.
The farm has a big photo voltaic panel financial institution on the farm to energy the distillation course of.
“We’re making an attempt to simply make one thing that’s not solely totally from Whidbey Island however can be actually gentle on the planet,” Caitlin stated.
Proper now, the Stantons are working in the direction of increasing into different sorts of merchandise like infused oils, candles and tinctures.
To assist run the farm, the couple has two “farm interns” or “WWOOFers” who found Whidbey Natural by means of the World Vast Alternatives on Natural Farms, a community that facilitates homestays on natural farms.
Rylan Johnson and Sara Berlowe reside on the Stantons’ property and work on the farm for about 25 hours per week. Johnson got here all the best way from Iowa to study natural farming by working at Whidbey Natural.
“I needed to reap lavender actually badly,” she stated. “I’ve a robust curiosity in lavender and herbs basically.”
Berlowe, who’s from Chicago, additionally needed to study herb and mushroom farming, in addition to oil and tincture making.
“I found their farm on social media by means of WWOOF a yr in the past and it was like circling by means of my thoughts for a yr,” she stated. “Then I lastly reached out.”
Caitlin and Sam each had been “WWOOFers” on farms of their 20s and stated that this system helps natural farms succeed and is a superb instructional expertise for the employees.
Extra not too long ago, Whidbey Natural has additionally began to develop mushrooms. Over the winter, Sam acquired a ebook on mushroom farming for Christmas and determined to construct a rising lab.
“The concept that there’s so many sorts of mushrooms that we might develop right here and get to eat was actually interesting,” he stated.
He was capable of produce their first harvest of mushrooms on the primary day of the Bayview Farmers Market final spring and it was an enormous hit. Ever since, Sam has been scrambling to maintain up with the demand.
“Final weekend we offered out in quarter-hour,” he stated.
Folks have been coming early to the farmer’s market only for an opportunity to snag a few of their lion’s mane, oyster and chestnut mushrooms.
“That’s one of many nice issues about beginning a farm on Whidbey is the group is so supportive and actually into native meals and native merchandise,” Caitlin stated.
Though there are a whole lot of farms on Whidbey Island, the demand for regionally grown meals remains to be excessive.
Whidbey Natural merchandise can be found on their web site at whidbeyherbal.com, on the Bayview Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday, and at 4 native shops: 3 Sisters Market in Coupeville, Madrona Provide Firm in Clinton and the Bayview Farm and Backyard and Flying Bear Farm, each in Langley.
On July 30 and 31, the Stantons shall be on the Cultus Bay Gardens in Clinton for the Summer time Arts and Crafts Market.
To search out out when Whidbey Natural has mushrooms to promote through the week, comply with them on Instagram @whidbeyherbal or ship an e mail to whats email@example.com and ask to be added to the mushroom checklist.