Portage Bay Cafe Visits Osprey Hill Farm

 A photo of some of Osprey Hill's crops. Photo by Kyler Martin.

A photo of some of Osprey Hill's crops. Photo by Kyler Martin.

Acme, Washington-based Osprey Hill is among the most vibrant and productive family-owned businesses in Whatcom County.

Yet when its owners, first-generation farmers Anna and Geoff Martin, initially met in the mid-1990s as students at Seattle Pacific University, neither necessarily had their sights set on owning a farm. Though they were interested in agriculture, land management, and biology, Anna aspired to become a dietician, and Geoff planned on becoming a doctor.

Time, along with marriage and children, would come to change those career ambitions: a desire to farm, which had always been there, eventually became too great to ignore. Fatefully, the Martins would tour the west coast in their Volkswagen van, with an intent to learn more about farming.

About a decade after graduating, the Martins attained the 15 acres which now comprise Osprey Hill, which is celebrated for its sustainable, environmentally mindful farming practices.

When asked how they would define Osprey Hill by Whatcom Talk in 2017, Anna and Geoff described it as being “a small, organically grown family farm that is taking big steps toward sustainability.”

One of the ways the Martins ensure symbiosis comes from respecting the land just as much as they do their livestock. At Osprey Hill, soil vitality and nominal tillage are fostered; compost is generated on the property, too.

Animals raised for meat are treated respectfully as they grow, and when they are eventually sold, nothing goes to waste.

“We buy our feed for our animals, and our animals are our main source of nutrients for everything else,” Anna explained during a recent farm tour.

A big fixture at Osprey Hill are their eggs, which come from nearly 400 hens and are either sold at local food stands or the Puget Sound Food Hub, where Anna is a board member. Potatoes, corn, and garlic are also popular.

The Martins are additionally in the process of growing rhubarb and blueberries, and renovating a portion of the land to make room for herbs to grow.

One patch of land at Osprey Hill pointedly goes untouched. This, however, was intentional: Mostly “controlled” by the animals who dwell on the farm, this particular region was designed to mimic an ecosystem in an effort to preserve a natural ecological balance on the property.

“It’s not really intended to be majorly productive,” Anna said. “It’s more of a farming technique we borrowed from permaculture. It’s a living farm system.”

There are a number of similarities between Osprey Hill and Portage Bay, with whom the farm recently started collaborating: both are family owned, endorse sustainability, and value community involvement and social justice. Most notably, though, both believe in the power of great quality, farm-to-table food.

“Good clean food shouldn’t be a privilege,” states the Osprey Hill blog. “It should be a standard.”