Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cliffside Orchards: Meet the Hermans

This is Jeanette and Jeff Herman from Cliffside Orchards. They sell organic stone fruits (apricots, nectarines, peaches), apples and pears at Seattle farmers' markets. They also sell their great organic produce at the Spokane market and at one in Idaho, but Seattle continues to be their best.

Jeanette and Jeff usually get to the University District Farmers Market in about mid July. This year they had a bumper crop of nectarines and peaches and customers could buy boxes of seconds (not perfect looking) fruit for a bargain price. The Herman's farm is in Kettle Falls, just north of Spokane. It's about a 350 mile drive to Seattle but this it's been a big boost to their farm to sell here.

Jeanette and Jeff met pruning the orchards in eastern Washington in the 1970s. They married and later Jeanette's daughter was born at the same birth clinic in Mount Vernon where my daughter was born 33 years ago. It's funny how small the world suddenly seems when you discover links like that. Anyway, they moved onto their property in Kettle Falls the day after Mount St. Helen's blew in 1980. The Hermans experienced windstorms and hail and years when they made next to nothing because of the weather, but they've had good years, too and selling at Seattle markets really helps this small sustainable organic farm's bottom line. And buying from them helps our state's economy.

Cliffside Orchards has long been one of my favorite farms so when Timber Press offered the opportunity to update my cookbook and add farms, Cliffside Orchards was at the top of my list. Every late summer and fall, I stop at their booth at the University District market to hear farm news, sample new varieties of fruits and get cooking ideas from Jeanette. She always has time to share information about their fruit.

Look for a profile of Cliffside Orchards and Jeanette's recipe for Pear Clafouti in my cookbook to be published by Timber Press next spring. The original version Local Vegetarian Cooking (2004)was self-published and contained a number of profiles about Washington farmers.

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