"When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."
Stewardship at Finnriver
At Finnriver, we are striving to create deep-rooted & fruitful connections to the land we farm, to our wild and human neighbors, and to our regional community. The Farm and Cidery operate as separate but interconnected enterprises, sharing land, tools, infrastructure and a joint commitment to 'serving the land' through the following practices and aspirations:
Sustainable Agriculture & Ecological Land Stewardship
Finnriver Farm is a Washington State Certified Organic Farm, with Salmon Safe certification as well. Working with the Jefferson Land Trust, permanent land conservation easements have been placed on the entire 33 acre property at Finnriver 'south' and on the 50 acre Finnriver orchard property at the Chimacum Corner. An easement links land parcels together and protects the farmland, in perpetuity, from development. Chimacum Creek runs through both farms and the riparian landscape is undergoing salmon habitat restoration and re-forestation through the CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program) program and the ongoing monitoring and maintenance efforts of North Olympic Salmon Coalition. Chimacum creek is home to an active Coho salmon population and provides habitat for numerous species of wildlife. In our fields, we are developing our own on-site compost system and use a poultry pasture and crop rotation plan that enlivens soil fertility. We are very deliberate in our efforts to use packaging (FSC papers for our labels etc.) and supplies from ecologically conscious sources. Our ongoing mission is to earnestly pursue best practices to balance people, planet and modest profit.
Finnriver Farm has installed a 100ft. tall Jacob's wind generator tower that functions as a grid tie and makes renewable energy when the wind blows. This year we are also submitting the REAP grant (Rural Energy Assistance Program) to work with local solar supplier Power Trip Energy to install a major solar system at the Finnriver orchard facilities. In season, to supply our urban Farmers Markets, we work with the Salish Sea Trading Cooperative to sail our cider to Seattle with minimal motor and fossil fuel use. On the farm, we want the food we grow to energize our land and our community. Offering a source of regional organic goods allows our customers to opt out of the fossil-fuel intensive model that transports food for thousands of miles before reaching the plate. Selling at regional Farmers Markets, coops and farmstands also helps us to avoid the resource and energy-draining refrigeration and packaging of goods during long-distance transport, storage and marketing.
Lively Local Economy
We want Finnriver to be a role-model of a financially viable small-scale organic farm and cidery. By becoming economically vital, we not only provide a livelihood for our own family, but also provide local jobs and support our neighboring businesses with our commerce. As vendors at regional Farmers Markets, and as an agricultural destination that hosts thousands of visitors a year, we create opportunities for conscientious consumer practices. We happily participate in barter exchanges with neighbors and local businesses. Finnriver is also pleased to be part of a innovative economic initiatives in our region. We are 100% progressively financed by local and regional investors and all of our land and business loans are carried by visionary individuals who support our mission. Through the LION group-- Local Investment Opportunity Network-- we have connected with investors interested in keeping their money local and in supporting business they believe in. The LION program, of which we were founding participants, has gleaned national attention for its innovative approach to local lending.
Healthy Regional Food Supply
Finnriver has diversified our operation so that we can grow productively on this land while still tending it wisely. By growing a range of fruits and vegetables, raising pastured poultry and pork, and fermenting hard ciders and fruit wines, we are a well-rounded food and beverage source for the community. Finnriver grows mixed organic berries and vegetables in the fertile fields of the Chimacum Valley and in greenhouses boosted with CO2 pumped in from our cider fermentation tanks; we raise poultry and pork on pasture, supplemented with locally grown grain soaked in whey from a local creamery; and we grow an organic orchard of antique and heirloom apple varieties to preserve the genetic diversity and cultural heritage of these old varities. That 'we are what we eat and drink' is the wisdom that guides us here. Offering authentic organic food and artisan beverages supports the well being of our crew, our customers and our shared resources.
Our quest is to operate a cidery at economically and ecologically efficient scale. This means making decisions with people and the planet in mind. In the cider barn, we have a low chemical use cleaning system, scrubbing by hand instead of a mechanized system that uses more water and chemicals and energy to clean our tanks; we pasteurize clean our kegs instead of the chemical rinse system used by automatic keg washers; we use reusable polishing towels in packaging department; we use environmentally friendly laundry detergent for washing; peri-acetic acid sanitizer for break down into water and vinegar (instead of iodine or sulfite or other sanitizer); we put our apple and other fruit pomace from pressing into our farm compost; the cardboard from our bottle pallets is repurposed to the local conservation district for tree planting mulch; the Propylene Glycol refrigerant for cooling our cider is made from the glycerol produced when producing bio-diesel; the residual yeast lees from our fermentation goes to the farm for pig and chicken feed providing vitamin-rich nutrients; CO2 from fermentation is pumped into farmer greenhouses in spring and summer for increased growth; our old barrels are made into tap handles (not plastic molded etc.); we use Energy Star appliances; and, last but not least, the cidery crew drinks Fair Trade organic mate and coffee throughout the day to offer good-humored human-power to our handcrafted production process.
Agricultural & Ecological Education
Finnriver frequently opens its fields to visiting groups for educational farm tours for youth groups, camps, schools, universities, volunteer groups, corporate retreats and work training programs. We believe in making the farm a resource to inspire and educate and are pleased to form partnerships with community groups who seek a connection to local agriculture. We participate in the Jefferson County FIELD intern program, to offer aspiring farmers a chance to live and learn on a working farm. In partnership with local and regional conservation organizations, we installed the Soil & Salmon Trail that guides visitors through our fields and into the salmon restoration areaa, and shares a history and vision for sustainable land use.
Thriving Farm Culture
Finnriver is now the hub for an extended multi-generational neighborhood of families and crew that share the daily rhythms of farm and cidery life, as well as gathering regularly for community events. We have developed a service-based U-pick model that allows willing volunteers to develop a relationship with the farm, as well as earning membership in our Berry Collective–an affordable and enjoyable way to harvest the summer berry crop. We host Pizza Sundays through the summer (with Dented Buoy pizzas, featuring farm-fresh, organic toppings and crust with local grains) with live music and the Music Roots Youth program to encourage young performers. We also host seasonal celebrations for the public, such as our Summer Soiree and World Apple Day, promoting positive experiences for all-ages on the farm. Our Cidery Tasting Room is open 7 days a week and welcomes visitors from around the world, offering guests a chance to see a working farm in action and, we hope, to feel a vital connection to the land. We are active members of local and regional organizations that promote healthy food and families, and we are grateful to be neighbors to many other small farms and markets that contribute to a thriving local farm culture.