As I hiked through the Olympic National Park in Washington state this summer, I heard rumors about a magical farm on an island in the Puget Sound, the body of water between the Olympic Peninsula and the the mainland of western Washington. The farm produced amazing kale, chard, and cabbage along with heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans and many other fresh vegetables. I picked up that you could stop by the farm's vegetable stand and buy what you wanted at anytime, even right before cooking dinner. It was something I had to see!
I didn't know the exact location of the farm or how to get there. It was rumored to be somewhere among the golden fields and verdant forests of the island and I figured that somehow it could be found with a little luck. The lure of fresh green organic kale in a natural, bucolic setting free from the bane of urban life was impossible to ignore. So I boarded a boat from a port town just outside the park and embarked upon the odyssey to this mythical place.
As I approached the shores of the island, I saw an abundance of wildlife including herons, gulls, osprey, and eagles.
After landing on the beach, I trekked from the bay towards the center of the island through deep forests separated by dry fields. I encountered deer prancing and frolicking in the grass.
Then, unexpectedly, I heard cheerful music in the distance and loud laughter from throngs of people. I continued forward and came upon a sign-post just at the end of the field. It directed me to the market and gardens where the fabled farm flourished. I knew I had arrived!
I followed the signs and arrived at an arcadian farmers market overflowing with great vegetables and fruit. Stands owned by many small local farms were set up to one side of the field while people mingled and chatted on the grass in front of them. Musicians under a white tent played spirited songs and attracted the attention of all who walked by.
But these stalls were not the ones I sought. So I walked through the market until I found the one I had heard about, Lesedi Farms. Unlike the others, the Lesedi Farms stand was not operated by anyone. You were allowed to take the vegetables on the shelf and leave your cash payment in the donation style box. The stand was filled with amazing and unique organic vegetables, all offered at a fair market price, all hand-picked that morning.
As I stood inside the stand, another door to the right quietly swung open, move by an unknown force. I stood there not knowing what to do. I glimpsed great greenery through the opening, so I walked through it and found myself among the burgeoning gardens of the farm. Rows of hanging tomatoes, forests of kale, and low lying bushes of cherry tomatillos, beans, and mint grew abundantly. It was a paradise!
I filled my backpack with copious amounts of fresh vegetables, deposited my payment in the box, and then traveled back across the fields and forests to the seashore. As I waited by the small dock for the next boat to take me across the coruscating waters, I could smell the raw vegetables in my pack. I reached for a sweet red tomato and devoured it as the waves crashed on the shore. It had been a fantastical day and one not to be forgotten among the rows of gardens of Lesedi Farms!
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