The land in Bow, Wash., for more than 60 years known in the Skagit Valley as Anderson’s Blueberry Farm is in transition.
Now owned by Susan and Harley Soltes under the name Bow Hill Blueberries, the operation has completed its first year of transition to becoming organic.
The couple bought the farm in 2011 and was in full harvest mode the last week of August.
Continuing the tradition of the Anderson family, some of the farm’s blueberry plants are reserved for you-pick. But Susan Soltes launched an aggressive sales campaign and has found foodservice operators receptive to the Bow Hill berries.
The small farm is already supplying blueberries to United General Hospital, Sedro-Woolley, Wash., and the University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, as well as several local and regional restaurants and some small retailers.
“In our first year we wanted to be careful and make sure we could deliver what we said we could,” said Susan Soltes. “Next year I’d really like to develop hospitals more, and I’d love to get into the schools.”
She said her customers have said they are looking forward to the farm’s full organic certification through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which could come as soon as 2014.
A helping hand
The most expensive aspect of transitioning from conventional to organic has been compost, Harley Soltes said, but a grant from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is helping the couple pay for some costs.
The Northwest Agriculture Business Center also is helping the couple establish the farm as one willing to cater to local customers. A business-to-business event sponsored in July by the Mount Vernon-based center served as the matchmaker for Bow Hill Blueberries and the two hospitals it now supplies.