Foodie paradise in the San Juans

A bounty of farm-fresh ingredients and a beautiful setting make Orcas Island irresistible

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  • Greenhouse manager Asaud Rauls works the fields at Maple Rock Farm where owner John Steward has made a commitment to nurture the next generation of young farmers.

    Working the field

    Thomas J. Story

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As foodie tourism goes, Orcas is one of the West's most enchanting options. Settlers have farmed the island since the 1870s, but only recently have they begun to organize themselves for visitors ― setting up on-site produce stands, perma-culture classes, even an informal petting zoo. At the Saturday farmers' market, lines form for Armand Bryl, the master Swiss baker, and Rob Kirby, who sells barbecued oysters along with his own roasted coffee and hand-blended spices.

The farmers themselves are a modern breed. Take John Steward, a former snowboard apparel company co-owner from Oregon, who started Maple Rock Farm six years ago. The sign on his vintage milk truck reads know your farmer, know your food. "It's not just about organic anymore ― it's about authenticity," he says. At the 56-year-old Coffelts Farm, a little stand stocks several cuts of lamb and pork, as well as wool comforters and Sidney Coffelt's superlative seasonal plum-lime marmalade. "We like to say they only have one bad day in their lives," she says, with an affectionate glance at her sheep.



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