Yakima Valley Natural Farmers Discover a Area of interest with Metropolis Dwellers | Seeds and row crops
Alvarez Farms has been round for 35 years, however many family-friendly Washington neighbors have by no means tasted their plentiful collection of natural produce.
That is as a result of most of their shoppers reside within the Puget Sound space, a three-hour drive from their 80-acre farm in Mabton, 35 miles southeast of Yakima.
“We do not get a number of consideration right here as a result of there is not an enormous marketplace for natural produce,” stated farm supervisor Eddie Alvarez, whose father Hilario began the enterprise. in 1986. “Most of our shoppers are from the Seattle space – most likely 90% of them – and that is the way it all the time has been.
Alvarez Farms grows all kinds of natural row crops – together with lettuce, kale, onions, shallots, asparagus, tomatoes, garlic, squash, peppers (sizzling and candy), apples of earth, zucchini and peanuts – and transports produce over the Cascades daily from April to October with its fleet of 15 supply vehicles.
Their buyer base contains grocery chains like Complete Meals and regional distributors like Charlie’s Produce, in addition to eating places and residential supply providers. However the identify of Alvarez Farms is essentially the most recognizable amongst Farmers’ Market patrons on the west facet of Washington.
“I keep in mind after I was 14, a pal of mine pointed me to Pike Place Market,” Eddie Alvarez, 41, stated of the enduring downtown Seattle waterfront market. “That is the place I constructed my status and began to draw the curiosity of various market managers. Now we promote our merchandise at greater than 20 farmers markets per week. “
The household additionally frequents two markets east of the mountains – one in Pasco, the opposite in Roslyn – however the exercise is undoubtedly centered on customers within the massive cities. Alvarez stated door-to-door deliveries have turn out to be more and more well-liked within the Seattle and Portland markets over the previous yr resulting from COVID-19.
“Lots of eating places have closed, however residence deliveries have actually taken off,” he stated. “We see this as the following step for our enterprise – by combining our merchandise with different natural merchandise like meat, bread and cheese and delivering them to individuals’s houses.”
Searching for to create extra various sources of earnings for the winter months, the household bought a industrial meals dehydrator to extend gross sales on-line and at farmers’ markets early within the season. Beginning this yr, they are going to be promoting a bigger collection of dried peppers, pickled greens, and different non-seasonal gadgets comparable to pepper crowns.
But it surely will not be lengthy earlier than the Alvarez develop full-time once more. They retailer their greenhouses in February and begin planting extra resilient crops like beets, peas, beans and salad onions in March. The transplants come out in the beginning of Could, then we go for the races.
“It may be troublesome as a result of the crops should be picked on the time of choosing,” stated Eddie Alvarez. “Typically we’re choosing at midnight with a headlamp as a result of we do not have a warehouse. Every little thing is picked contemporary daily. “
Alvarez’s youthful brother, Steven, oversees deliveries and wholesale operations, whereas their father stays concerned in all aspects of the enterprise. In reality, Hilario Alvarez, 67 – who immigrated from Mexico to Wapato, Washington, in 1970 – nonetheless enjoys farm work as a lot as he did in his youth.
“My dad began out as a farm laborer in Mexico, and that is all he ever knew,” stated Eddie Alvarez. “We rely rather a lot on his expertise when making choices about what to plant from yr to yr as a result of he simply understands how issues work. He actually has a inexperienced thumb for it, and we rely on him daily.