Rafa and I first walked onto the land in May 2014 with our lifelong friends, who had set up an expedition to look at property around Bellingham, WA. We had planned to make a day of it and go to about 8 properties. They kept talking about the Nooksack River, a place where they and their son had spent hours fly-fishing. So off we went east on the Mount Baker Highway in search of the land along the Nooksack!!
When we arrived, a magical concatenation of events granted us entry through the gates to roam the property with only the agent—as the current owners were out of town. We were like children released into an astonishing wonderland of beauty and fecundity. Running and laughing, gasping at this fruit, that 50' tree, splashing about in the cold river. We were totally unprepared for the elysian paradise we had fallen into. As we walked back through the gate, stunned after wandering the 14 acres, it was love at first sight, for all four of us and we knew it. Rafa said "does anybody really need to look at anything else?" We laughed and all agreed, this was the spot. The place which we knew in our hearts would become Three Rivers Farm. It was essentially a horticultural Shangri-la— one that had been planted 25 years previous by a couple of Washington "Jonny Appleseed-ers." Hundreds of varieties of plants, trees, shrubs abound along the perimeter of the land and seemed to encircle the wide open meadows. The land and river had called us "home" to it—to begin probably our last BIG art project for this lifetime—stewardship of THIS land as Three Rivers Farm.
All manner of Grace seemed to move in our lives and brought the money to buy the farm immediately —before selling our sustainable home in the mountains of Prescott, Arizona. The planets, sun and moon seemed to line up regarding every aspect and within 2 months we arrived with all our belongings—landing smack dab in the middle of fall harvest. There was no time to unpack properly, so we set up the kitchen and our beds and got to work. The cherry plum tree was laden with fruit—and actually provided over 2000 pounds of fresh delicious plums. We picked blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and aronia berries until our hands ached (and mouths turned purple with delight). We canned, dehydrated, froze, juiced, delivered to the local restaurant and Rafa made "sweet man"pies (OMG as they came to be known in our household) from the abundance that the land gave us!! Heartnuts, hazelnuts, English and black walnuts and chestnuts filled our winter stores. We picked the never-ending purple passion heirloom giant asparagus and broccoli like there was no end in sight. Then came the apples—and they just kept coming. We ate fresh, crispy apples from our trees, made apple butter, apple sauce, fresh apple cider, and gained 5 pounds eating apple pies (with fresh, local Acme ice cream).
But it didn't stop there—somehow we became the magnet for several neighbors apples as well when word got out that we KNEW what to do with all that precious fruit (I'd been trained well by my Scottish grandma and grandpa to let nothing go to waste)! There doesn't seem to be anything that won't grow here, except maybe prickly pear cactus. I understand why it rains all winter in the Pacific Northwest—just to give its stewards a L-O-N-G needed rest after the harvest; catch the salmon when they run, and Rafa time not farming to repurpose his rusty steel scrapyard into amazing recycled art sculptures and furnishings.