Newaukum Valley Farm in Chehalis, whose business is made up mostly of sales to restaurants in the Seattle area — which have been impacted by the state-ordered shutdown of restaurants — is selling boxes of produce to the community on Saturdays and donating food to charities or out-of-work restaurant employees.
“We cater a lot to restaurants. There are still some places that are doing to-go food but most of the restaurants we work with are closed, so it’s definitely affected our business,” said co-owner of the Newaukum Valley Farm Melissa Henderson.
Henderson and her husband Josh Hyatt have owned and operated the Newaukum Valley Farm since 2003 and grow certified organic food on 20 acres of land.
“The majority of our produce finds a home outside of Lewis County. We are working to find new outlets for our product at this time. Some produce may be donated to charity in the coming weeks or included in boxes that will be distributed to restaurant employees who have lost their jobs. We will continue to offer a CSA locally,” she said.
The produce boxes will feature winter vegetables including carrots, leeks, beets, Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), mixed winter greens, winter radishes, herbs and overwintered kale.
The boxes can be purchased in advance on the Newaukum Valley Farm website, https://newaukumvalleyfarm.com/, for $35. The boxes can be picked up on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon at Shakespeare & Company: Coffee and Used Books in Chehalis on the porch so that there will be limited social contact as well as limiting people’s need to go to grocery stores. Henderson said that she estimates that the CSA (community-supported agriculture) boxes will feed four to six people for about a week.
“I will be posting a link on our website where people can sign up for a 10 week CSA starting in June. Hoping to have that link up by tonight. For now, we will offer boxes using what produce we have on hand on a weekly basis and people can purchase those as needed,” said Henderson.
Henderson said that announcements and updates on the produce boxes will be posted on the farm’s social media page and emails will be sent out to past buyers.
“We are really just trying to get creative and luckily people have been really kind and responsive to the boxes the last couple weeks. It’s the kind of thing that just makes you feel good about our local community and even though they may be having a hard time they’re trying to help out their local farmer,” said Henderson.
Bridget Fosse, the market manager at the Tenino Farmer’s market said that the farmer’s market should be opening on time, opening day May 2, because they are considered a grocery store.
“We’re kind of in a wait-and-see position but right now Governor Inslee said that we can stay open,” said Fosse.
The vendor season kick-off meeting, scheduled for April 4, was canceled to limit social interaction but the farmer’s market is still taking applications for vendors at email@example.com.
“I’m very happy that the farmer’s market is still on at this time because I’m only doing one market this year and I need my income,” said Fosse.