The Cascadia Cooperative Farms has hired me to manage the egg washing and packaging facilities located at Goose and Gander Farm here in The Snoqualmie Valley. The coop has been trying to get off the ground for a few years now and we finally have the facilities in place to begin processing and packaging our eggs. This new machine system cut my egg washing from hours to minutes.
The beautiful eggs you see going into the machine are from Leafhopper Farm! We’re up to about 15 a day, and if we collect for about two weeks, we have about 10 flats of eggs for the coop. The farm will not give all its eggs to the coop, but we will occasionally make a “donation”. I say donation because the coop cannot buy Leafhopper Farm eggs at a price that makes our grain affordable. We are committed to using only USDA organic, Washington grains and cannot find anything comparable to the quality of Scratch and Peck.
In future, the coop plans to have an organic label, but that’s a long way off. Till then, I’ll give eggs when I can to support the coop’s mission of small local farms, but the reality is, they aren’t looking for small 40-50 bird flocks like me. My vision is many 40-50 bird flocks in the hill farms, which collectively, like a coop, produce plenty of eggs. It will be a hard road to prove to the bottom land crowd that only sees bulk purchasing leverage, but that could work with a larger number of small producers. However, we would have to raise the base price to the farmer, because right now, it’s not enough for quality small organic flocks.
Leafhopper Farm’s mission is keeping eggs local, as close to home as we can, which is not large enough a market for Cascadia Coop. Perhaps we can sell our eggs at the local farmer’s market while talking about Cascadia Coop to local consumers who might sometimes find themselves in a grocery store where they can reach for a brand that is still local for them. We’ll see- Leafhopper would have to run a farmer’s market booth, and we ‘d need a few more people here solidly working to get that vision fully off the ground.
For now, working with the coop to help get more local farmers connected to local markets is easy to get behind. More updates to come as the coop picks up speed this summer.