Farmer Heroes | November 17, 2004

Andrew Stout & Wendy Munroe of Full Circle Farm: Growing for the Community

Over the course of the year, Andrew Stout and Wendy Munroe grow and sell more than 75 varieties of vegetables and herbs on Full Circle Farm, a 140-acre certified organic produce farm located in Carnation, Washington. Through retail stores and farmers markets, restaurants and subscribers in its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, chefs and consumers who want the very best and freshest produce have come to rely on Full Circle Farm’s consistent ability to provide.

Wendy and Andrew started farming on 3 acres in 1996 with a love of growing and the need to get involved with their community. Throughout the years, Full Circle Farm has steadily been able to grow more food as the community connections have grown stronger. By working with Harvest for Humanity and Hopelink, the farm has donated over 6,000 pounds of organic produce to those in need. They also work closely with the local school districts, providing fresh organic produce for school lunches through the WSDA sponsored Farm to Cafeteria Program. Full Circle Farm is connecting to the community in a family way. “We believe that wholesome food is the foundation necessary for a long healthy life,” an expecting Munroe states, “and you can never start eating healthy too soon.”

“We believe that wholesome food is the foundation necessary for a long healthy life, and you can never start eating healthy too soon.”

Full Circle has become not just a farm, but also a small-scale distributor of sorts, teaming up with some other local growers to provide companion crops. Full Circle supplements many of its cool season crops with warm season crops from Alvarez Farms in Eastern Washington. “The benefit is we can offer our customers fantastic produce that is better grown outside our region,” says Stout. “When you add the fact that we are helping to support other family farms, it clearly becomes a successful working relationship.”

One of Full Circle’s greatest strengths is efficiency. Duplicates of older tractor equipment ensure that a replacement part is readily available if something breaks. Staff are cross-trained and most now have mud-speckled cell phones for communication from the seat of a tractor — a sure sign that farming has come into the 21st century. Suction-powered seeding equipment holds one seed in place for each cell of a seedling tray, vastly reducing seed waste and sore eyes. This year, they planted over 3 million transplants.

“You want to become the best farmer you can become,” Stout says. “Some of this is tools, and some is observation.” One of his best observations is in anticipating what local consumers want. “Consistency is key!” he declares. That’s how Full Circle has built a reputation among many local chefs and produce lovers as the best source for locally grown organic salad greens, vegetables and fine herbs.

Full Circle Farm is the 2003 recipient of the Department of Natural Resources Green Globe Award for Leadership in Habitat Preservation and the King County Wildlife Farm of the Year for 2004. They are the first farm in Washington to become certified in the Salmon Safe Program, demonstrating their belief in land stewardship through action and example. To learn more about Full Circle Farm and become a member, visit their website.

Portions excerpted from Sound Consumer, a publication of PCC Natural Markets.

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