Farmer Spotlight: Bright Ide Acres

As of September 2017, the PCC Farmland Trust family grew by three: Micha and Andrew Ide of Bright Ide Acres purchased 30 acres of protected land in Orting, bringing their sweet daughter Hattie along for the ride. Learn more about Bright Ide Acres below.

How did you first get into farming?

This is our sixth season farming. We started – sort of by accident – in 2013. Andrew and I decided we wanted to spend more time outside, so we went on a massive road trip through 40 states, stopping in National Parks along the way. In order to be closer to Andrew’s family, we ended up making our way to Washington to accept an internship at Chinook Farms in Snohomish. In our first year, we moved from interns to farm managers, learning how to care for the land in a trial by fire kind of way. We soon built a tiny house there with no running water or electricity. We focused mostly on the farm’s vegetable CSA, and managed some animals, too. In 2014, we felt we were ready to start our own farm business. That’s when Bright Ide Acres was born. Rather than focus on many different aspects of farming, we wanted to do one thing really well. For us, that was ethically raised meat.

Tell us a little bit about how you landed on your current property.

Situated right in the floodplain, our land in Snohomish wasn’t sustainable for our business. We experienced six floods in 2015 alone. When I got pregnant with Hattie, we began a search for our own property so that we could start our family and find land that made sense for the long haul. As you all well know, farmland in the Puget Sound region is incredibly expensive due to urban expansion and development pressure. While we would have loved to have stayed in our beloved Snohomish community, it simply wasn’t possible to afford land there. Thus we began our search in South Puget Sound, which is when we learned about PCC Farmland Trust. I began talking with Robin, your conservation manager, about land opportunities and learned about the affordability benefits of conservation. We feel so lucky to have been able to purchase these 30 acres in Orting in September of last year. We definitely wouldn’t have been able to even consider land ownership if it wasn’t for the work of PCC Farmland Trust and others helping make our working lands more affordable.

What do your operations look like today?

Having all of the pasture and infrastructure that we do now is really exciting for us. Our animals are happier than ever. We look forward to growing our heritage turkeys, sheep, pigs, and Freedom Ranger chickens this season. We currently produce some eggs, too.

 

What is special about Bright Ide Acres?

Something we’re proud of is that we’re the only farm in the area that produces Halal chickens. One of our friends and customers, Touseef, requested that we produce Halal meat for him and his family. In no time, Touseef was teaching us about Muslim food traditions, and we were teaching him about ethical slaughtering. Thanks to Touseef, all of our chickens are now slaughtered Halal,  which has helped us create an even more accessible product for members of our community. Our long-term goal is to acquire our own poultry processing equipment and rent it out to other farmers in the area. Fingers crossed we get our grant to make that happen!

 

Did you or your husband grow up around farming? What drew you to this work?

Food has always been important to us. I have a lot of allergies and intolerances, so I’ve always been pretty mindful about the food choices that I make, and that we make for our family. We had our own garden for many years, but other than that, basically taught ourselves to farm as interns in Snohomish. We still can’t believe we are where we are today!

 

What excites you or gives you hope about the future of farming?

Our customers are by far the most rewarding part of this work. We farm because we’re so passionate about it, not because it’s a money-maker. You simply can’t put a price on people’s satisfaction and appreciation for your product. We both feel so great about the food we share with our community because of the quality of life that our animals have. Our hope is that we can sustain ourselves into the future with farming alone, because right now we do need outside income to keep the mortgage paid.

 

What is a typical day like on your farm?

At Bright Ide Acres, we set up our farming operations so that our animals can embody their most natural behaviors. All of our animals have access to outdoor space, and weather permitting, are on pasture. Our chickens have room to scratch, peck, and find bugs. Our pigs have room to root and burrow and bathe in the mud. Our sheep and goats are all grass fed. We really work with the animals, taking cues from them about what works best. We also rotate the animals around the farm regularly. Our sheep graze, keeping their natural fertilizer moving around the farm. We then bring the chickens in a few days later, who feed on larva and help spread the fertilizer even further, all benefiting the health of the soil. We think of our farm as a living, breathing feedback loop.

 

What is your favorite farming story?

Back at our old Snohomish property, we knew a flood was coming, so we got all of our turkeys and put them in a small tunnel next to the house. I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of a vigorous flapping, which I figured was just the wind hitting the plastic of the tunnel. But then I looked outside and saw that it was a totally still night. I ran outside in my pajamas to find all of our turkeys flying around, heading straight to the flooded fields. Andrew and I got the canoe, paddled out to the field and grabbed all of the turkeys we could reach, one by one. We were able to get about half of them back into the tunnel before giving up from exhaustion. I went to bed sobbing. I couldn’t bear to think about all of those turkeys drowning. It was also just a week before slaughter, so we had spent a lot of money and energy preparing those birds for customers. Thankfully, in the morning, the flood waters had receded, and I heard an amazing sound: gobbles! All but one of our turkeys had come staggering back.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Just how grateful we are to be farming today. The Snohomish community remains near and dear to our hearts, but we are so excited to get to know new friends and customers in Orting and to be a part of the PCC Farmland Trust family.

 

Photo Credit: Molly Goren