Although the Snoqualmie-based Oxbow Farm and Conservatory has acted as a nonprofit organization for nearly a decade, its core values and agricultural practices span generations.
In the earlier part of the 20th century, a Swedish immigrant named Thomas Alberg, Sr. had often visited the Snoqualmie area with his friends and family to bond with other Swedish immigrants who lived there. Because memories associated with the region were so positive for Alberg, Sr., he was eventually inspired to purchase 230 acres of land bordering the Snoqualmie River decades later.
On his new property, Alberg, Sr., with the help of his five children, started a beef cattle ranch. In part due to this endeavor, Alberg, Sr.’s attachment to Snoqualmie grew stronger — and this ended up having a lasting effect on his children, too.
In the late 1990s, the latter’s son, Tom Alberg, Jr., who has worked as a director at Amazon.com since 1996, worked to maintain the work that his father had started in the years previously, and began leasing the property. Rather than emphasizing Oxbow Farm’s work as a cattle farm, Alberg, Jr. chose to put more attention onto replanting native plants and flowers around the surrounding lake, and hiring a pair of farmers to start an organic vegetable farm.
Due to an interest in community involvement, and a desire to make a bigger impact in general, Alberg, Jr., with the help of his wife, Judi, turned Oxbow into a nonprofit in 2009. With their financial support, Oxbow has since operated a farm and a native plant nursery, and has offered environmentally focused education programs.
Oxbow practices ecologically conscientious agricultural methods — their farm is certifiably organic — and allows people to be involved with the organization through a Member program, special events, tours, workshops, school programs, and even an organic Farm Stand.
“It’s really important that people care where their food comes from, only because it is so easy to get food that comes from really close to where you are,” Sarah Dublin, then a farm manager, told All Recipes in a video last year. “It’s amazing to me that the norm is to accept that we get our food from really far away and that it’s really hard to get local, fresh produce.”
Oxbow is also attentive toward hunger relief, and hosts regular “gleaning” events that allow its farmers, as well as volunteers, to gather unharvested foods from the farm fields. The food is then donated to nearby shelters and food banks.
By also working with Portage Bay, who most often features the farm’s sustainably grown vegetables in their dishes, Oxbow has expanded its outreach beyond the Snoqualmie area, buttressing an idea of expanding their effect on a bigger community.
“We’re supporting a greater good,” Adam McCurdy, who worked as a farm manager for several years, told the Seattle Times in 2016. “Caring for the land, caring for the waterways, [and] caring for the community in a holistic, ecological way.”