The second annual Whidbey Island Grown Week will feature more activities, local food and unique experiences than last year.
The event, which starts Sept. 28, aligns with Whidbey Island Grown’s mission to promote local farmers, businesses and products.
“Working together, we feel we can strengthen each other’s businesses throughout Whidbey Island,” said John Burks, chairman of the group’s steering committee.
More members have joined since the inaugural 10-day event happened in 2017, and more individuals and businesses are participating, Burks said.
Spotlighting Maxwelton Valley during a four-stop self-guided tour Oct. 6 and 7 includes Spoiled Dog Winery on Maxwelton Road, where visitors will learn about grapes, crushing and the wine-making process.
“We really have a lot going on but nobody seems to appreciate Maxwelton Valley,” said Karen Krug, owner of Spoiled Dog Winery, one of the oldest wineries on Whidbey. Krug was the first to try growing Pinot Noir grapes on the 25-acre orchard, an idea that seemed crazy to many at the time but has proved wildly successful in the maritime micro-climate.
Thursday, the first day of fall crushing for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes began behind its tasting room. The Passport Tour of Maxwelton Valley also includes the Organic Farm School, Venture Out Nursery and Whidbey Island Distillery. Participants filling their passports will be entered to win prizes. People can also sign up to help pick grapes on Sunday, Oct. 7.
A self-guided Ebey’s Reserve Farm Tour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sept. 29 will include nine farms in the Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve and small demonstrations, food samples or activities at each location.
“It’s a chance for people to see what’s being produced here on Whidbey Island,” said Burks, who owns Kettle’s Edge Farm.
Traci York, a local food blogger, will be doing cooking demonstrations using produce from Kettle’s Edge at the farm during the tour.
Liz Sherman, of Sherman’s Pioneer Farm, will showcase different ways to use the family’s unique sugar Hubbard squash. She said this will include samples of breakfast, lunch and dinner foods as well as smoothies and other bites.
Burks said people who take a selfie at each of the farms and post it to Whidbey Island Grown’s social media pages with #WIGWeek2018 will win a prize. The tour also includes Eckholm Farm, Lavender Wind Farm, Bell’s Farm, Prairie Bottom Farm, Rosehip Farm and Garden and the Pacific Rim Institute.
Whidbey Island Grown Week will last until Oct. 7, and includes businesses and farms across the island.
Some local stores have special deals for the week, such as Sweet Mona’s in Langley, which will offer a free two-piece sampler to customers that mention Whidbey Island Grown.
Several of the member organizations partnered together, such as Orchard Kitchen teaming up with Foxtail Farm for a farm-to-table dinner on Sept. 30.
Each stop offers a tour and tasting.
“I think there definitely has been an increased amount of energy and activity with the membership,” Burks said of this year’s event.
“We’re an all volunteer organization. We really rely on the members to define what they want and how they participate.”
Bell’s Farm will be featuring its produce during the Ebey’s Farm Tour, at the Harvest Faire at Greenbank Farm on Sept. 30 and at a “know your farmer, know your chef” event.
“It’ll be a busy week, but we like to be busy,” said Paige Mueller, of the farm.
Christopher’s on Whidbey will partner with Bell’s Farm to create “simple dishes” that highlight the farm’s produce, according to restaurant owner and chef Andreas Wurzrainer.
Free samples will be available of salad, soup and roasted vegetables from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., Oct. 2. at the restaurant’s Pantry.
“It’s not so much about the complexity of the any dish as it is about letting the product shine,” said Wurzrainer.
Mueller’s husband, farmer Kyle Flack, and Wurzrainer will be available at the Pantry to answer questions about the produce or the prepared meals.