As a programmer for Microsoft, following a career in the Air Force, Joyce Behrendt remembers joking on stressful days in the office that she was going to leave and just become a chicken farmer. Having been raised in Auburn, Washington, she didn’t really mean it, but after retiring from Microsoft, she found herself on 10 acres, with a gorgeous view of Mt. Rainier, running Ode to Joy farm surrounded by more than one hundred geese, ducks and chickens. Her home is flanked on all sides by lovely gardens, plants and flowers, all prepared chemical free and with careful consideration to the soil, bees and pollinators.
An ode is a lyric or poem, written to praise something or someone. So “Ode to Joy” seems fitting for this happy little farm, run by this friendly woman with an easy sense of neighborly kindness. Stepping onto her farm is like a visit to a favorite place. Time slows down a bit and you are relaxed and welcomed.
As a founding member and vendor of Enumclaw Plateau Farmers’ Market’s board, it’s no surprise that her passion centers around community and people. “You get to know people as they come back each week and you kind of become family,” shares Joyce as we wander her gorgeous, nearly weed-free, no-till garlic patch. She likes knowing that her work is useful and that growing fresh, organically grown food in flavors and varieties not easily available is meaningful and valuable to the customers and our community. And if you’ve ever tasted her produce or eggs, you know they are indeed valuable.
Joyce will be bringing her fan-favorite garlic varieties (Music, Asian tempest and more), shallots and onions in flavors and varieties you can’t find in the local grocery store. Of course, she will have her eggs and other fresh produce in season. That’s one of the greatest parts of a farmers market, you can’t get fresher or even anything like it at the store.
“Joy on every living thing, nature’s bounty doth bestow.” —from original poem that inspired Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.