Published on Saturday, July 8, 2017
Tucked in the mountains of northeast Washington, a little antique shop welcomes visitors to Front Porch Farm. Further down the lane lies the small diversified farm that Dee Acheson and his wife, Liz started nearly 20 years ago.
“We've got kind of a unique situation.” Dee explains. “At age 50, I bought the farm. I had no farming experience what so ever. No ag background at all.”
At the time, the Acheson’s five children were young and active. “My boys were ages 15 and nine when I bought it. I really felt led to give them an opportunity to experience the farm because that's always what I wanted to do, but I never had an opportunity.” Dee recalls.
“It was a good move because our boys were getting older and needed something to keep their hands busy and to learn and experience work.” Liz adds with a smile.
Before taking the leap into farming, Dee worked in construction as a general contractor. The family had a large garden, and the fond memories of summers spent on his grandfather’s fruit farm fueled Dee’s dreams.
“When we moved here, we thought, 'Okay, we're going to do hay and cattle.'” Liz explains. “Well, that didn't pan out quite like we thought it would. So we went, 'Okay what are the things we really like to do?' Gardening was one, and antiques was another thing that we've loved ever since we were first married. And so, we went, 'Well, now we've moved on this busy highway. How about a store that would sell our produce and we could do antiques?'”
“We sunk everything of our life investment at that point into the farm. A bit of a gamble to say the least.” He smiles. “But it has paid off. I wouldn't change anything.”
The Achesons' oldest son, Merritt, is now in his 30s, and raising his own children on the farm. “This is definitely a great place to grow up. I hope they see we're proud of what we do and people are important. That's why we're doing what we're doing.”
During the growing season, he spends many long hours in the hay field and talking with customers at the farmers markets. His wife and siblings also contribute their own time and talents. He enjoys the variety this way of life offers.
“I like that no day is ever the same.” Merritt says, checking over the greenhouse plants. “We do everything from cows to irrigating to hay to vegetables to farmers market.”
Even though Washington’s climate can make each of those challenging, it feels good to know they’re making an impact in the local community.
“You put a lot of sweat equity into it.” Merritt says from in between leafy green rows. “Some crops turn out really good and some years they don't at all. It just depends on the weather, temperature swings, and timing. When you can have a really good product, people are happy to get it. You're not trying to sell them something they don't really want or don't need. You're selling them something that you can really feel good about. People depend on us. That's what’s really cool.”
“I think that people just appreciate the fact that they know where their food is coming from and if they want to stop by and see how we grow or what we're doing, we're always willing to show people around.” Merritt continues.
In addition to selling at farmers markets, local grocers, and their own store, the Achesons have partnered with the local food bank. Being a good steward means nothing they grow will go to waste. There’s pride in knowing as a family, they are providing for others.
When it comes down to it, farming is a labor of love, Dee says. “The passion of loving what you do. That's why I do what I do. To see the rewards of working with my family and my grandkids, nothing can replace that.”
That’s why the Acheson family farms.
Author: Natalina Sents
Categories: Why I Farm, Why I Farm Roadtrip
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, hay, cattle, Family, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, farmers market, Washington, vegetables, small farm, local, fresh, antiques, Front Porch Farm