BY LARA DUNNING
Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
July 15, 2015
“Can I come see the farm?” is a question Jessica Muzzall often gets asked at 3 Sisters Market.
Unfortunately, since 3 Sisters Family Farm is a working farm, she must say “no.” But questions like this show the Muzzall family that people have a genuine interest in their operation and a strong desire to see the 600-acre farm where their food is raised.
On Saturday, July 18, the sisters are saying a definite “yes.” They are opening their gates for “Farm Day” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 938 Scenic Heights Road, on the northeast edge of Penn Cove.
What can one expect on
Visitors can see the animals up close and learn about their diet and daily routine. A tractor-trolley will take riders to the back of the farm past lounging pigs and grazing cows. There will be kid’s activities, like a hay maze and temporary farm-inspired tattoos, as well as educational booths from groups such as Island County 4-H, Whidbey Camano Land Trust and Washington State University extension programs. The USDA-inspected mobile slaughter unit from Island Grown Farmers Co-op will be on site—not for slaughtering, but to show where the processing takes place.
In the covered barn, Serendipity Catering & Events will sell juicy 3 Sisters burgers, all-beef hotdogs and blackberry cobbler. Additional specialty sweets will be available for purchase by Dinky Donuts and Toppins Frozen Yogurt. In the old self-serve storefront visitors can stock-up on grass-fed beef, all-natural pork, cage-free eggs and other Whidbey Island products.
Muzzall, one of the three sisters and 3 Sisters Market manager, said, “We’re happy to give back to the customers and provide them with an opportunity to see where their food is coming from.” The free day is a way to show their appreciation and demonstrate their lifestyle. “It creates an understanding of what it is to be a farmer—the time and the commitment,” Muzzall added.
While visiting the farm, Jennifer Jones, another Muzzall sister, took some time away from her morning duties. Dressed in work clothes that had been put to good use that a.m. she told me their farm is the “real deal.” They proudly don’t use any genetically modified feed and, even though the farm isn’t certified organic, they follow sustainable and organic farming practices. Days often begin at sunrise and last until sunset, which in summer means long, hard days tending to 400 cattle, 500 chickens, 100 pigs and 30 sheep. There’s also mending fences, sowing, harvesting and general upkeep.
“This is really what we do,” Jones said. “It’s important for people to see and to provide a hands-on experience.”
The Muzzall family has had plenty of hands-on farming experience—five generations—dating back to the turn of the century when Edwin and Stella Muzzall moved from Michigan to a rented farm in Everett, Washington. In 1910, they moved to Whidbey Island and along—with their son and daughter-in-law, Lyle and Edna—started with milk cows and egg laying hens.
In 1920, another son and daughter-in-law, Cortland and Edna, joined the farmstead. Lyle and Edna’s son and daughter-in-law, Bob and Evee, bought Cortland out 26 years later and joined the farm.
In 1956, the family decided to leave the poultry business and built a Grade A milking parlor. Ron and Shelly, Bob and Evee’s son and daughter-in-law, returned to the farm 30 years later. In 2000, they formed 3 Sisters Family Farm, named for Ron and Shelly’s daughters, Jessica, Jennifer and Roshel—the fifth generation.
3 Sisters Family Farm and 3 Sisters Market
After six years the family decided to sell the milk cows and focus on providing the community with grass-fed beef, all-natural pork and cage-free eggs. They sold their products at farmers markets and in 2012—after the demand grew—opened 3 Sisters Market at 779 Holbrook Road in Penn Cove.
A trip to 3 Sisters Market shows off their hard work and connections with local business that enable them to carry Penn Cove mussels, San Juan Island Sea Salt, Whidbey Pies, Golden Glenn cheeses, Mukilteo Coffee, Twin Brook milk and cream, beauty products, vegetables and more. Just off Hwy. 20, in the former San de Fuca fire station on the western edge of Penn Cove, it’s the perfect place to check off those items on your grocery list and at the same time support local farmers and artisans.
Like the original homesteaders Edwin and Stella over 100 years ago, the Muzzall family is involved in all aspects of farm life—from birthing to butchering, sowing and harvesting their own hay and barley, and selling and promoting their products.
“Farm Day” at 3 Sisters Family Farm offers an opportunity to step into those hard-working boots and get a glimpse into a farmer’s life.
Lara Dunning is a freelance writer. Her articles have been published in The Crossing Guide, the Anacortes Scene and Waggoner’s Pacific Northwest Boating. Her interests include young adult novels, history, hiking and locavore-inspired food.
Image at top: Look for this sign beside the farm on Scenic Heights Road, on the south side of Oak Harbor. (photo by Marsha Morgan)
3 Sisters Family Farm: http://www.3sistersbeef.org/home.html
Serendipity Catering & Events: http://www.serendipitytogo.com/
Dinky Donuts: http://www.dinkydonuts.com/
Toppins Frozen Yogurt: http://www.toppinsfrozenyogurt.com/
Island Grown Farmers Co-op: http://www.igfcmeats.com/
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Great photos, Marsha. It’s fun to see the farm after having bought the product. Hope 3 Sisters is around forever.