Whidbey Green Goods - Our History
The present farm site was purchased in January, 2000. Other than the home and the well house, there were no other structures on the property. During the first year, a 10X36 foot hoop house was erected for personal use. Beside this hoop, there is a 30X50 fenced, outdoor garden. For several years, other than the addition of a small chicken coop, these improvements were all intended for personal use.
Humble Beginnings, the "South 40", 2002
In the fall and winter of 2005, the first efforts were made to move the property into vegetable production. The first hoop was expanded, renamed GH#1 and had an 8X10 head house/planting shed erected to its east end. That fall, dozer work was done to clear the space that is now the “North 40”. In the spring, 2006, fenced & planted the “North 40” along with the construction of 3 hoop houses, GH#2, 3 & 4. These improvements put about 2400 SF under plastic and 12000 SF in outdoor production.
“North 40”, 2006. Layout for GH#4, GH#2 to the right & GH#3 in the back with a 14X70 footprint.
2006 was the first year of a CSA/Farm Box-type operation. There were 7 clients and all the food was grown here on the property. Approximately 30 different crops were grown that year.
Week 15, mid-August, 2006 Farm Box.
One thing that became obvious during the 2006 season was that I was not going to be able to raise & sell enough produce & eggs to be “sustainable”. If farming was going to be my sole source of income, I needed a different approach. During that winter, I researched & studied the “Food” delivery systems that were in place at that point in time, the typical grocery supply chain and the “local” farmers market/CSA/farm stand system. The idea of merging the better points of Big Grocery & Little Food into one delivery option was the birth of Whidbey Green Goods.
In 2007, the transition was made from the standard CSA/Farm Box-type “subscription” model to producing a weekly Fresh Sheet from which the Client made a selection of the Items offered for that particular week. The WGG Fresh Sheet was a Word document delivered via email. The Home Delivery Service was introduced mid-season rather than having the Client having to “fetch” their Order at the farm. Approximately 30 clients partook in this transition to home delivery. All the produce for that 22 week season was grown here on site.
The 2008 season was 27 weeks long with approximately 50 Clients participating. The “Order When You Want” concept was introduced that season rather than having the Client fiscally responsible for each & every weekly drop. That season was also the first year that other vendors offered Items on the WGG Fresh Sheet. Willowood Farm became WGG’s first outside vendor. Later that year, WGG began to offer “Prepared Foods” cooked by myself as Items on the Fresh Sheet. Prepared Food Items were mainly comfort food dishes. That was also the first year that local, grass-fed beef “by the piece” was introduced.
2009 was a 33 week season that started with 53 Clients and finished with 80 households receiving the Fresh Sheet. Along with 4 produce vendors, when the Farmers Market started in May, added the first two vendors that offered Items other than produce…Island Apiaries honey & Chocolates by George. Approximately 50% of the produce was grown on site. I was in an auto accident that October that curtailed Home Delivery Service thru November however, WGG did participate in the first Bayview Holiday Market. The first Fresh Sheet for 2010 was dated 01/25/10 and offered 26 Items. The 31-week season ended in mid -November with 75 Items listed with most of the growth in the Produce Category. The Fresh Sheet was emailed to approximately 150 Clients and averaged about 25 Orders per week. Chia Farm pork was added to the Meat Category. Other Categories added that year included Artisan Jams, Goat Milk Soaps and Mushrooms.
Head Lettuce on the left & Carrots on the right. 2010.
In 2011, WGG placed an emphasis on extending the season of availability of “Local Food” being offered. Even though WGG was offering a 10-12 week longer delivery season than most CSA/Farm Box programs in 2009 and 2010, it was determined that for “Local Food” to be a viable alternative to Big Grocery, it had to be available for a goodly portion of the year. WGG offered weekly delivery for 44 weeks in 2011 to approximately 250 Clients. Offerings were expanded to include several new Categories including Fruit, Seafood, Grain & Grain Products and Coffee. This was also the first year WGG began offering Items from Skagit County. Sugar Snap Peas ready for harvest. June, 2011.
2012 was the first year that WGG did not grow any of the produce Items for the Home Delivery Service, but rather placed its efforts on expanding the Client base and total number of Items offered via the Fresh Sheet. Starting in March, 2012, to facilitate online ordering, the Fresh Sheet, a Word document, was accompanied by an Excel Order Form. The weekly Fresh Sheet email was sent to approximately 750 households via Gmail. On a weekly basis, Home Delivery was made to about 1% of the households in the WGG’s Delivery Area. Items offered on the Fresh Sheet exceeded 300 for the 42 week season from over 50 vendors.