meet the maker: Bow Hill Blueberries
words by Rebecca Treon | photo by Jennifer Johnson
Skagit Valley, Washington is renowned for its annual tulip festival, but it’s also home to Bow Hill Blueberries, the valley’s oldest family-run blueberry farm. Established in 1947, the six-acre farm has 4,500 bushes, including three heirloom varieties: Rubel, Jersey, and Stanley. This year, those bushes—the first to be taken from the wild and planted in rows on a farm for cultivation—will celebrate their 71st birthdays. In 2011, after the passing of the original owners, the Soltes family—Harley and Susan along with their children Amelia and Wylie—took over the farm. “We wanted to revive the farm to be the community center that it once was,” says Susan Soltes.
They focused on revitalizing the soil and caring for each bush individually to become certified organic, designated in 2014. “We live on the farm and are passionate about health and taste—so we wouldn’t do it any other way,” says Susan. The couple, a photojournalist and director, became interested in farming when looking for a lifestyle change. Inspired by a book Harley was working on with the Quillisascut Farm School, Susan started taking farming classes. The school teaches students about the importance of agriculture, seasonality, and local products—and the Soltes became a part of a movement.
Bow Hill Blueberries has a pick-your-own program with a $5 grazing pass (yes, you can eat the berries right off the bush) but the majority are handpicked by roughly 25 people who harvest 60,000 pounds of blueberries annually. The berries are used to create an award-winning line of small batch organic artisan goods made right there on the farm. Their products include organic heirloom pickled blueberries (which won a Good Food award), cold pressed juice, blueberry powder and much more.
For the Soltes, Bow Hill Blueberries is so much more than how they make a living—it’s their passion. They’ve inherited stories from locals who picked berries at the farm in the 1940s and they’re delighted to continue the tradition of harvest memories and sow a farm-to-table connection. They cherish that they are part of providing their community with flavorful, anti-oxidant rich, healthy berries that now, people anywhere can enjoy.
editor’s note: In honor of July being National Blueberry Month, we’ll be sharing a new blueberry recipe with you each Thursday this month featuring the amazing product line from Bow Hill Blueberries. We love the quality and taste of their products and invite you to give them a try as well. If you’d like to try Bow Hill Blueberries products, use code THECOASTALTABLE for 10% OFF your order.
very berry smoothie
Packed with antioxidants, this smoothie is the perfect antidote for a hot summer day.
1 cup ice
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup Bow Hill cold pressed organic blueberry juice, or more as needed
2 tablespoons Bow Hill organic heirloom blueberry powder
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
Place all ingredients in a blender. Process until thick and creamy. Add more blueberry juice if smoothie is too thick and blend until desired thickness.
Makes 1 (16-ounce) smoothie.
This post is sponsored by Bow Hill Blueberries, but all opinions are our own.