When foreign frozen juices from China and Brazil flooded the market in the 1990s and falling wholesale apple prices bit another chunk out of hard-earned profits, Rose Merritt didn't give up. This charming farm store was her idea for saving husband Allan Merritt's apple farm.
Allen Merritt grew up in Skagit Valley. He always knew he wanted to farm and says that when he was young, farms were everywhere. Farming in Skagit Valley was booming back then. Apple, berry, row crop and dairy farms defined Skagit Valley. Allen lived down the road from Judy Jensen who now helps run Golden Glen Creamery an artisan butter and cheese company that sustains her family's dairy farm. Rose Merritt said she traveled to other farms and learned what they were doing to help preserve their farms as wholesale food prices plummeted.
Once you pull into the lot and head towards the store, check out the variety of apples in baskets and bins on the old fashioned front porch before stepping inside. Once inside, I'm immediately transported back to the 1950s with the colorful green, orange and yellow Formica tables. Shelves and pantries are lined with pickled green tomatoes, country corn relish, quince jelly, gooseberry preserves and blackcurrant jam--most are products with the Rosabella's Garden Bakery label. The fragrance of home baked apple strudel, tarts, cider doughnuts wafts through the air.
I suddenly got a craving for pie when I spied Rose's 5 pound apple pie. It's almost too perfect to eat.
Skagit Valley Co-op carries lots of local products--produce from Ralph's Greenhouse, Mother Flight Farm and Gibb's Organic Produce to local bakeries like like The Bread Farm that makes the best breads in Washington. I'm crazy about their Skagit Valley potato bread. You can also get local cheese like those made by Golden Glen Creamery. The co-op's deli is always busy, and if you want to do your holiday shopping in one stop, check out the mercantile department on the upper level for more local products, including my book.