i stopped at the farm and snuck into the greenhouse this morning. i needed to remember why i was here. it’s easy to forget, holed up in an empty warehouse amidst a maze of office complexes and concrete, that things are growing and coming to life.
the skagit valley is a funny place, and unlike anywhere i’ve ever spent a significant amount of time. it’s sort of like a swatch of the midwest farm country was cut out and slapped down amidst progressive enclaves more readily associated with western washington. it’s flat flood plain, an alternating grid of massive farms and run down strip malls. the roads run straight, through potato fields and lines of raspberries as far as the eye can see. the skagit is the bread basket of western washington…except that it produces vast amounts of berries and brassica seeds and potatoes rather than wheat or grain. it’s a patchwork of conventional farms interspersed with a few large-scale organic farms that sell to wholesale markets. it’s not like maine or vermont or port townsend.
in many ways, it’s the more real world. it’s real agriculture, with thousands of acres and gmos and chemical fertilizers and migrant farm workers and deportation and massive farm machinery outlets. it’s real america, with trailer parks and newly built vacant mansions in awkward developments and malls and outlets and fast food and meth and a giant, seething oil refinery.
it’s not all bad. there are good people doing good things, as there are everywhere. it’s close to beautiful and majestic mountains, and to the san juan islands and coast. there’s a tulip festival every year, and you can ride your bike through endless color, as if you were in the netherlands.
the fact that it’s a real place, and not the ideal, makes it all the more urgent and important for an influx of sustainable and equitable agriculture, of fresh perspective and balance, and healthy food. even if it is a constant push against the norm. even if it’s not the place you want to spend the majority of your time. it’s noble, no doubt, but is that enough?
feeling out of place here has made me more sure of things. i’ve started a sort of mind map of what i want, and things are beginning to coalesce. good comes out of not so good, new growth comes out of the dirt.