ABOUT HALF OF THE RESIDENTS of the largest island in Washington are involved in small-scale agriculture, from raising alpacas to breeding tasty new types of flowers. The Whidbey Island Farm Tour may only happen annually, but many farms on the island welcome visitors year-round.
But that’s what Mary Donaty is doing, and I wouldn’t really call it retirement. She and her husband take care of all the daily farm chores – feeding and caring for the animals, including shearing the goats and llamas, administering medical treatments, and spinning, knitting, and weaving their fibers into scarves, shawls, hats, sweaters, and more.
Open weekends 10am-4pm
Weekdays: call ahead to visit
4081 Springwater Lane
Clinton, WA 98236
If you’re a fan of Pinot Noir, clear out some space in your car for a few bottles (or crates). Owners Jack and Karen Krug won double gold at the 2011 Seattle Wine Awards for their 2009 Estate Pinot Noir, and their Pomo di Moro took bronze at the 2011 San Francisco Wine Chronicle Competition. (The latter, by the way, is made from locally grown apples and pears, and even if you’re a wine purist, it will probably win you over. Chill a bottle and try it with a baguette and some goat cheese.)
You’ll likely meet Blue and Sami, and you’re welcome to bring your own spoiled dog to this winery. Tours are available by appointment through the tasting room located in the Bayview Cash Store.
5603 Bayview Rd.
Langley, WA 98260
This little nursery has been featured on HGTV and in Martha Stewart Living, Horticulture Magazine, and Better Homes & Gardens, and owner Marie Lincoln is still humbly breeding chocolate flowers and making chocolate candles by hand. She focuses on rare perennials with rich, chocolatey hues – some of which are edible.
Stock up on chocolate raspberry jam, chocolate body cream, chocolate bath salts, chocolate massage lotion, and chocolate mint tea in the gift shop.
040 Saratoga Road, Langley, WA 98260
Nursery Tel: 360-221-2464
Garden Shed: 360-221-4464
Owners Dale and Liz Sherman specialize in heirloom squash and pumpkins – their “Sugar Hubbard” can be found at most Whole Foods Markets in Washington and Oregon. This squash is a combination of blue Hubbard and Sweetmeat squash, resulting in a dense, sweet squash with a beautiful dark orange color.
Take a trolley ride around the farm to learn a bit about the land and its history, then stock up on squash to take home for breads and soups.
Open weekends 10am-4pm in October.
172 S. Ebey Road
Coupeville, WA 98239
This isn’t a farm, but with all the produce above, you’ll need some cookware.
Robbie Lobell and Maryon Attwood create “flameproof” clay resistent to cracking under thermal shock. Everything from the pots to the coffee mugs are handmade, starting at the potter’s wheel and fired in an enormous hand-built propane-fueled kiln at 2300 degrees Fahrenheit. The firing process takes over 24 hours, and near the end, they insert a solution that includes soda ash through a few small openings in the kiln, which adds to both the durability and the beauty of the surface of the clay.
The onsite showroom is open year-round so you can check out the process for yourself.
640 Patmore Road
Coupeville, Washington 98239
[Editor’s note: Michelle’s visit to these farms was sponsored by Whidbey & Camano Island Tourism, but the thoughts and opinions expressed are her own.]