What started as tending a “garden” in abandoned planters to the light of tiki torches after work in their Lower Queen Anne apartment building, has led Kevin and Desirée Helfrick of Hell or High Water Farm to Enumclaw.
After successfully tackling their own urban homesteading, they realized this life was more than just a hobby, it was their destiny. So, Kevin became a participant in the Tilth Alliance Organic Farming Education Program, which officially launched their farming business in Auburn in 2015. They started their CSA with pasture raised eggs in 2016 and have continued to expand their farm offerings each year.
Kevin and Desirée lease acreage from “Cart before Horse” Farm and now have plenty of room to grow flowers, vegetables, berries and tend to their flock of more than 250 free range chickens. They are excited to be part of the Enumclaw Plateau Farmers’ Market since this will be their first engagement as a farm in this community. Having served urban markets and CSA customers in other areas for several years, they are excited to now offer vegetables, eggs, berries and cut flowers to the Plateau.
They were recently featured in the Courier Herald – read it here.
At a young age, Julie Kintzi began to notice the disappearance of farmland in the Kent valley, and then the paving of some of the finest farming land in Pierce County for warehouses and the sale of prime farmland in our area to development. While not all kids would be thinking about the impact of these shifts, Julie is not like everyone else. She has a committed passion to advocate for keeping farmland in commercial food production, for encouraging farmland owners to keep their farms in production or sell to farmers who will grow to sell to the community. She is passionate about healthy soil and crops and to doing whatever she can to ensure the future of farming in our area is preserved. What began as a childhood observation, has become a personal mission for Julie Kintzi and and her husband Ken Ray of Cart before Horse Farm.
As you wander her personal garden and hear the expertise casually spill from her, it’s no surprise to learn she has worked and volunteered in botanical gardens, conservation districts, farmers markets and related professions for years. Plants and farming are high on her list of priorities and a topic of focus for this down to earth, relaxed couple.
Although King County passed a bond in 1979 to preserve hundreds of acres of farmland, which are primarily in the Snoqualmie valley, Sammamish valley and Enumclaw plateau, development continues to outpace the preservation of farmland throughout the area. So Ken and Julie are doing more than talking about it. They are investing their lives and their resources to help reverse the tide.
They bought their first farm ten years ago with the vision to keep it in commercial farming and to affordably lease the land to other farmers. They succeeded in protecting this land with a conservation easement and subsequently sold that acreage to a commercial farming family. This remains their motivation today with the 33 acres at “Cart before Horse” Farm, which leases to Hell or High Water Farm and has more space available to farmers who have had a young farming businesses for a couple years. Ideally, the hope is to attract a dairy goat farmer to their property to create a local source for goat milk and cheese. For their own farm work, Ken and Julie are raising organically grown turkeys, which soon will be available for pre-order sales in time for fall holiday meals. But don’t wait, they are selling out fast and the poults have barely made their home on the farm.
Julie’s platform is simple. If Enumclaw is known for its rural appeal and we want to preserve that, then we all must play a part. If you have land you want to sell, consider leasing or selling at a price that farmers can afford. As a consumer, shop locally and buy directly from farmers. Get to know the farmers in your community and shop at the farmer’s market. Stand up for protecting farmland when it is threatened with development. And ultimately hold your city and county accountable by attending public meetings, writing letters or making phone calls. It does make a difference.
This passion is why Julie has been such an integral part of the board in establishing and organizing Enumclaw Plateau Farmers’ Market. This is not her first venture into farmers’ market leadership. She has brought her experience in other towns to help thoughtfully guide this project into reality beginning on June 6. It is very important to Julie and Ken that the community has access to local products and that farmers can sell nearby and at prices that are sustainable for their livelihood.