Between its sprawling river and luscious, lucrative farmland, Skagit Valley is famous for its farming and flowers. The Genuine Skagit Valley program, established in 2013, was born out of a desire to increase knowledge of the unique agricultural heritage that resides in this Northwestern Washington soil.
“I would say the quality of the crops and the farm goods that come from this region are some of the best in the world,” Genuine Skagit Valley Director Blake Vanfield says. “And I feel very fortunate to have a job to help share that story and share that information.”
Vanfield has worked with Genuine Skagit Valley for three years now, but has been in the farming and agriculture scene for close to 15 years. She has always been involved with her community in one way or another; for example, she previously ran a cooking school and has even helped start up a farmers market.
Now, she and her team help to spread awareness of Skagit Valley-produced agricultural products. Vanfield notes that Skagit soil quality is within the top 2% globally, and the region grows more than 80 commercial crops.
“We have the Genuine Skagit Valley certification mark, and that denotes the origin of where [a product] is grown,” Vanfield says. “Just look for that and you’ll be eating something pretty good.”
Another facet of Genuine Skagit Valley is promoting annual festivals, such as the Daffodil Festival in March or the Tulip Festival in April. The Tulip Festival is one of the community’s main economic drivers, bringing in $60 million annually.
In July and August, visitors can come to Skagit Valley for their annual Farmstand Fresh event. While the Tulip and Daffodil Festivals are about creating a floral utopia for your eyes, Farmstand Fresh is all about giving your tastebuds new takes on familiar favorites. This allows visitors to get a full taste of what grows in Skagit Valley soil, and it may be the gateway to finding a new go-to farmstand for all your delectable needs.
Even back in early 2020, when the global pandemic hit right before the Tulip Festival, Genuine Skagit Valley worked in coalition with the farmers and Skagit community to adapt.
“I was so impressed with our farming operations, who quickly turned and pivoted to sell fresh flowers, to take everything online, to be able to offer photo tours and virtual tours,” Vanfield says. “Within our business community, and also our agricultural community, they did a really, really great job.”
Considering that 95% of the table beet seeds and 75% of the spinach seeds used in the United States are grown in Skagit Valley, the area’s farming community is as lively as their tulip industry. Thanks in part to Genuine Skagit Valley, the region’s recognition should only continue to grow in the coming years.