After taking the week off for the Independence Day holiday, Enumclaw Plateau Farmers’ Market is ramping up for the full on summer harvest. Blueberries galore! Multiple vendors will have blueberries this week, and others will feature them as ingredients. Seek them out and you will not be disappointed.
Lance Smith and Brian Jones of S Bar J Farmstead in Enumclaw, have lived in their 108-year-old farmhouse for five years with their now ten-year-old twins.
Although their farm operation is focused primarily on providing healthy meats and produce for their own family today, they are raising sheep for lamb meat, which is USDA processed and sold through L & B Mini Ranch in Enumclaw.
After leaving Capitol Hill and finding their ten-acre farm in Enumclaw, Lance got involved in PTA at the kids’ school, Featherhaven Native Songbird Rehabilitation and other community groups. Now also acting as secretary for Enumclaw Plateau Farmers’ Market, he has been vital to getting us ready to serve the community.
The family was regular attendees at the farmers’ markets in Seattle and appreciated access to fresh, local produce and products. Being part of making that accessible to our area is the driving commitment behind Lance’s work for our board. He includes his kids in caring for their gardens and livestock, emphasizing the importance and appreciationg of how it came to be; that it’s healthful and nutritious; that it is free of preservative compounds and chemical additives. He believes in the practice of keeping children involved in farming so they will help perpetuate small farming into our future.
Beyond the farming and volunteering, Lance is a talented multimedia artist. His studio is filled with projects, materials and artifacts of history, botany, art and entomology specimens. As time allows, he is creating fabric and art reproductions of butterflies and moths as well as multimedia pieces that incorporate his scratch board art and natural elements. His talent is easily seen in his specimens under glass!
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.