Located in Rochester, Kirsop Farm is dedicated to providing affordable organic produce while preserving the agricultural heritage of the county. Your support of our farm enables us to continue to support others doing good work in our community. Kirsop Farm has long been involved with Garden Raised Bounty, South of the Sound Community Farm Land Trust, and others.
Colin Barricklow was an inspired TESC student when he founded Kirsop Farm in 1996. He had come to Olympia from the suburbs of California seeking… a liberal arts degree?- but instead found a fondness for the actual seasons, honest work, and great whole food.
He worked at the Kamilche Sea Farm harvesting mussels for years; first establishing residency, then working his way through college. He also built a great many gardens for The Kitchen Garden Project (in the olden days before it was folded into the great work of GRUB). Colin and some friends rented the home site of the Kirsop Farm and rototilled up an ambitious quarter acre for the first vegetables.
The farm has grown slow and steady ever since! Colin can often be found atop one of the Kubota tractors or the little Farmall Cubs, tending to all that needs tending. He is also quite fond of tending to all the animals on the farm.
Genine Bradwin was one of the first 3 CSA members of Kirsop Farm! She liked the CSA share, the vegetables, the farm, and the farmer. Genine came to Olympia for some civilization, to escape the dull, dirty country life of Moxee, WA, where she was raised (not by farmers). Genine has had a heck of a time figuring out how to get all the work done, raise two babies (now teens), and attend to some self-care all these years.
The greenhouse full of plant babies is her favorite part of the farm, though the big open fields of soil, cover crops, and rows of seedlings have their charms. Genine has a not so secret love of Zumba, and great novels.
A Little Farm History
Kirsop Farm began as a quarter acre vegetable garden in 1996 in Tumwater. Colin Barricklow and some friends set out to feed themselves well and sell the excess produce through CSA shares, farmers markets, and the local food coop. Genine Bradwin joined him and the farm continued to grow; from a quarter to a half acre, then up to a full acre, then two. After that, a new rented field in Tenino was added. A few years later, a closer field to lease became apparent just around the corner on Littlerock Road, near Black Hills High School.
Before Colin and Genine were farmers at Kirsop Farm, Rick and Ada Kramer were farmers at Kirsop Farm. Rick and Ada were in partnership with others and formed the Farmers Own Co-op, an organic wholesale company. In the course of that time, they leased many fields, including the ones that were also leased by Colin and Genine. Funny how things work.
In the fall of 2013, Kirsop Farm entered into an agreement with the South of the Sound Community Farmland Trust and began farming an additional 30 acres in Rochester. You can read more about this collaboration here.
Presently, Colin and Genine do all their farming in Rochester at the Scatter Creek Farm and Conservancy property. There are 20 acres of vegetable production, 40 acres of grain, and plenty of pastures for poultry, sheep, chickens, and pigs.
A Little Something About Us
Kirsop Farm has been providing Thurston County residents with quality produce since 1996. As we near our 25th anniversary, you can still find Colin and Genine working the fields for ten hours a day. Though our fields have grown in size, we are still the same small family farm you have come to know and love. Our recent long-term lease with the South of the Sound Community Farm Land Trust has provided us the opportunity and peace of mind for the next generation. We look forward to feeding your families.
About Our Farming Practices
How we choose to spend our food dollars is a means of voting for the kind of world we would like to live in. When we purchase food grown locally, we not only receive great food, but we begin to change our local landscape. Local organic farms benefit their community in many ways. They contribute to greater local food security and cultural identity, preserve green spaces, attract wildlife, and help circulate money within the local economy.
We love to cover crop more than any other thing! We try to get started cover cropping in June when the first beds are harvested out. We plant a lot of rye/vetch mix. Occasionally in summer, we will do a quick buckwheat cover to beat out weeds and feed the soil. Cover crops do at least two things: feed the soil and compete with weeds, both beneficial to the farm. A really neat thing we can do (now that we are incorporating livestock into the rotation) is run a flock of broilers (meat chickens) across an acre or two and allow them to fertilize the field for us! The broilers live on a field of clover that was planted with their specific tastes in mind.
Soil building is primarily accomplished by planting and tilling in cover crops. We test our soils each year in the fall and amend according to needs revealed. We amend with lime, rock powders and minerals. Our primary nitrogen source is feather meal. No manure, other than that applied directly by our broiler flocks.
We love to make compost. We have a marvelous compost tumbler of farm size that slowly creates a compost that we use for our potting soil mix. We make our own potting soil mix to grow all of our own transplants for the farm. We can not create enough compost to meet the needs of our farm, so we do buy a load or two from a certified organic source.
Our general plan for preparing fields for planting is to plow, then disc, then rototill. We go over the beds again with a bed-shaper that is also a weed flush, sort of a cultivation pass. Keeping weeds under control (down to a dull roar) is our main occupation. Our farm does a few trials each year with WSU around the topic of low-till/no-till methods.
The seeds we choose to grow at the farm are a mix of heirloom and hybrid types. We choose vegetable types that taste good, look good, and grow well in our climate. Some of those types turn out to by hybrid, some not, but never are they GMO.