Winlock Meadows Farm is the inspiration
of Susie Kyle, the founder, owner, and developer. Susie's life, in
her words, narrowed to being 50, newly single, and on 15 acres of
land originally purchased to raise her family in a rural setting.
Looking at what she wanted to do with this next phase in her life,
she knew several things. She wanted to do something she enjoyed,
something that made the world a better place, and she clearly didn't
want to get a job to get money.
In evaluating her resources, she determined her 15 acres was her
greatest resource. Standing in the middle of her undeveloped 15 acres
contemplating her next steps, she declared, okay, farming is our
next adventure. After contacting the local Cooperative Extension
office to find out what crops she could grow on her land in her area,
she eliminated each one of the options for different reasons.
Christmas trees required the extensive use of chemicals, a capital
investment, and 6 years before income comes in. She couldn't
make a living selling wheat or hay, and the list went on. Had
she tuned in to the suggestion of growing strawberries, this
would have changed the course of her life, but she didn't choose
strawberries. But now she did have to figure out what she was
going to grow.
Her first farming adventure became growing
2 acres of certified organic potatoes for another local farm
who had contracts
5 Star restaurants in Seattle. She was advised to begin with
only one acre, but why do one acre when you can do two, she
thought. At the end of the season she knew why. With limited
and help, no farming experience, and no equipment she stepped
in to a high learning curve. She was serendipitously networked
with a young man by the name of Craig who was also deciding
to grow potatoes for the same local farm, but he had no land.
decided to undertake what became "the potato project" together.
One of the first
big learning curves was when the growers came to the farm with
a mechanical hiller to
hill the potatoes to
be told that the potatoes had grown too tall and the mechanical
hiller couldn't be used. She'll never forget being told with
no emotion, "you'll need to hill the two acres by hand and
it will only take you two weeks". That she did, and amazingly
enough this is when she fell in love with farming. The actual
physical labor of hand hilling 2 acres was arduous and she's
still healing her knees, but it gave her time to dream, and as
you will discover, a dreamer she is. Once the season was over
she realized she couldn't support herself selling potatoes by
the pound so she put the farm on the side burner giving it some
time to redesign itself.