I was very lucky to spend the day at Joe’s Place Farm today. My second grader had a school field trip, and going to a farm is a great reason to volunteer at school. Plus, I got to have a farm tour and chat with the owner, Joe Beaudoin.
The farm has an extensive you-pick selection, including strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, apples, plums, and peaches. After a tour, Joe let the kids pick a pint of the last of the season’s strawberries. This was a huge treat for many urban kids who have never seen how strawberry plants grow. Intertwined with thistles, plantain, pineapple weed, and dandelions, it is very clear that Beaudoin takes good care to abstain from chemical applications.
My child’s class did a science and biology experiment about compost this year. (How cool is that?! Who says public school is all work and no play?) The kids collected brown and green plant matter, as well as food scraps and worms, and made their own bags of compost. Joe took the children to the farm’s compost pile and did temperature experiments to explain just how plants decompose. He also described the connections between humus, carbon, and oil and coal. It was a fascinating discussion, especially for a group of sixty 8 year-old children. Joe let the students add their homemade compost to his pile, emphasizing the intersections of life, earth, and community. Then, the kids got to climb to the top of Compost Mountain for a little extra fun.
Joe’s farm is situated off an unassuming street in the heart of Central Vancouver. Established in 1971, it is now the last vestige of what used to be a vibrant agricultural belt, as the area is quickly succumbing to urban sprawl. One needs to only look across the street from the farm store entrance to see dozens of cookie cutter homes under construction. Beaudoin still owns nearly 90 acres of pristine farmland, but is facing constant pressure. Some may say that Joe’s Place Farm doesn’t “belong” in the city; but if anything, the farm has shown that people crave a glimpse of pastoral living, a sense of a simpler place in time. That is why the farm is so important to Vancouver and is worth supporting.The farm store boasts berries from the farm, as well as regional fruits and vegetables. Joe’s Place Farm has their own lines of honey, salsa and salad dressing for sale, and there is a bakery case with fresh pastries and fudge. It is a true gem in our city, and a part of our living history in Southwest Washington.
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Check out more of my photos from the trip below.