Shortly after its inception in the late 1990s, Portage Bay has sought to make meals using organic, farm-to-table-fresh ingredients, supporting like-minded farms and organizations in the Seattle area in the process.
Among Portage Bay’s notable collaborators is 21 Acres, a Woodinville-based center and farm that observes sustainable agricultural practices and education.
“Their goal is to reconnect people with the way our food was grown and the way they feel food should be grown,” Austin Becker, a former 21 Acres employee who now leads Farmstand Local Foods, said.
21 Acres was officially founded in 2006 after several years of development and planning. In 21 Acres’ many years of acting as a food source and center, it has promoted the advantages of using local food systems in the context of sustainability.
21 Acres has long aimed to look into the relationship between natural and manmade environments, and how society at hand can efficiently switch from utilizing unhealthy, fossil fuel-driven farming techniques to more environment-conscious practices.
Like Portage Bay, community outreach and involvement is important to 21 Acres. In addition to hosting a year-round "farm market," where they sell produce from their farm as well as products from other local farms, the organization offers summer camps, cooking classes, and other activities at their education center.
In their farming techniques, 21 Acres values gentle, organic, and transparent growing customs. 21 Acres is a Certified Organic farm, but often goes beyond typical organic practices to foster regenerative farming on the property.
“Chefs can literally come out, see the farm, see what they’re buying, see how it’s grown, meet the workers,” Becker said. “It’s incredibly transparent. It’s not a distributor telling you it’s local, the chefs are good to go right on the farm.”
21 Acres first became connected with Portage Bay in the early 2010s, when some of the latter company’s chefs began integrating the organization’s products into the menu on a small scale.
The relationship developed further in 2014 when Puget Sound Food Hub, a Pacific Northwest-aggregating distributor 21 Acres launched with two nonprofits and a family farm, became one of Portage Bay’s go-to food sources.
Since then, Portage Bay has prominently spotlighted the organization with the 21 Acres Omelette, which is one of the company’s most popular dishes. Portage Bay also supports the aforementioned, 21 Acres-adjacent Farmstand Local Foods distributor, which also runs a farm-to-table program and has partnered with the City of Seattle to use funds from the Sweetened Beverage Tax to provide quality food to child centers throughout the city.
Collaboration has continued to be vital to 21 Acres’ success. On their farm, they have worked with the Veterans Conservation Corps., UW Bothell, WSU, and Cascadia College; in the kitchen, they have joined forces with Bastyr University, Le Cordon Bleu, and others.
Community support is widespread, too: Advocacy for the organization looks almost encyclopedic on its website.
21 Acres emphasizes these relationships, and will continue to maintain a connection with Portage Bay.
“Folks like Portage Bay that put the farmer first … it aligns really well with what [they] do,” Becker said.