This year has truly been a challenge for all of us and pumpkin patches are no exception. About a month ago we here at Swans Trail Farms had no idea if we were going to be able to operate much like many businesses in the state of Washington. It was not until a few days ago we found out that we could have guests out to the farm and the reason this happened was because of community.
Our family was not a “Snohomish Valley Farm Family” which many farms in the Valley date back 5 generations or more. Just a little more about our story. My parents were both teachers and decided one day at the age of 31 and 28 with three kids they were going to be dairy farmers. Those first few years were rough and held many challenges. My dad always said that he could not made it without help from his fellow dairymen in the Snohomish Valley. Dairy farmers are a tight knit community and when you see another farmer suffering you drop everything and help that other guy out. I grew up knowing if a piece of equipment broke or the milk price fell there would be a farm in the Snohomish Valley to lend a hand.
As time went on we had many more tough times in the Dairy Industry and made the difficult decision to sell our cows. It was 1997 and we had a small yet promising pumpkin patch that we felt we could make work. Other then one other farm soon after selling our cows many of our fellow dairy farmers followed suit by selling and starting their own pumpkin patches. Now to date there is a total of 7 pumpkin patches within 15 mins of each other. Many think we would be competitors but we all consider ourselves comrades. The farms in the valley’s attitude never has changed and we are closer now then when we were milking cows.
Prior to the State announcing limitations to our operations we were meeting this summer and developing a plan to open in a safe and secure way. As we have for years we worked together, making sure we had all the right documentation and contacted the right people. We also discussed the safest way to operate during a pandemic; what to cut, what to keep. With the leadership of Linda Neunzig from the Snohomish County Ag Dept. we were able to organize and get the state to change its original decisions.
This would have never happened with just one of us. Although we did not always agree, it took all of us to show the state we can operate together in a safe manner. Our story in who to respond to this moving forward matters. Just like the dairy days when something tough happens in the Snohomish Valley we rally around each other.
I can’t help to think as the craziness of this world increases and the division gets wider just know that there are still small and large pockets of communities around you working together.
Happy Fall!!! Farmer Nate