Rockport, WA (Skagit County)
You might not realize it but local farms are making a huge difference in the way we eat. More and more frequently, the fruits of their labor, i.e. the fruits + veggies, meat, and more that they produce, are finding their way into our bellies through CSA and other delivery services, farmers markets, and grocery stores of course.
The foods they produce are healthier and better for the environment thanks to their ongoing commitment to organic, GMO free, and sustainable farming. Maybe you haven’t given this kind of food a chance, but I’m guessing you’ve heard of it. After experiencing significant improvements to my health thanks to making the switch to these kinds of foods, I highly recommend not only trying them, but learning more about all three things while you are at it. They truly are interesting.
When it comes to this kind of healthier option on a local front, I think it is safe to say that Cascadian Farm of Rockport is the name you are most likely to recognize. Located 25 minutes north of Darrington, this little farm that could is the birth place and inspiration for food products found on the shelves of local grocers and big box grocers like Safeway.
Their products include cereals and granolas (I love the blueberry lemon granola), bars, jams, and frozen fruits + veggies that are 100% organic and GMO free. You’ve probably seen them, but never took the time to realize they are local. We probably never would have either if we hadn’t taken the time to explore Highway 20 in Skagit County and stumbled upon their farm and roadside stand (more on that later).
While the company itself, and the history behind all of these foods, is local, I will say its grown more than a bit beyond our borders in some ways. The food products themselves are produced and distributed by Small Planet Foods of Sedro Woolley, which is also located in Skagit County. Around 2000, that company was purchased by General Mills, a big box manufacturer that you are probably more familiar with.
While some may see the ultimate owner as taking away form the local aspect of the Cascadian Farm brand, I don’t quite see it that way. It is still produced and distributed locally, the products still follow the organic and GMO free commitment of the farm, and I’m guessing there is a very good chance some local ingredients are still going into the products.
That’s all I’m really going to say about that, because honestly, this feature isn’t about those particular food products. Instead it is about the farm behind them and their roadside stand which serves up the best homemade ice cream you will find locally, or anywhere else for that matter.
Cascadian Farm has been going strong for 45 years now, getting its start when 24 year old Gene Kahn dropped out of college to help change the world. His vision was to not only change the way that people eat, but the way that farms grow as well to reduce impact on the land and protect surrounding rivers and streams.
Taking his ideas and running with him, he went on to become a pioneer in both organic/GMO free food production and sustainable farming. That’s right, he was doing these things before they became the popular trend that they are today. I don’t know about you, but I think its kind of cool that part of such an important movement happened in our neck of the woods.
And, while its food products aren’t necessarily produced and distributed by the farm anymore, there is still much to see and do at the Skagit County farm. It is an awesome place to go for a U-Pick experience. Depending on the time of year, you will find blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, sweet corn, and pumpkins. The awesomeness doesn’t end there though.
The farm is also home to a native pollinator garden which is full of beautiful and amazing smelling flowers. One of my favorite things to do when we are in the area is to walk amongst the flowers, avoiding the bees of course since I’m allergic. It is also an excellent place to sit for awhile and enjoy views of the surrounding mountains and river.
Both of these things aside, its time to get down to the best thing about Cascadian Farm, the roadside stand. It isn’t your typical roadside stand. Instead it is somewhere you can step inside to get fruits + veggies, those food products we were talking about earlier, coffee, and of course the ice cream I’ve been dying to share.
What makes the ice cream found at Cascadian Farm so special. That’s easy! It is not only homemade, but the flavors primarily center around the berries grown right there on the farm. You literally can’t get more local or fresher than that.
My favorite go to flavor combination is blueberry and vanilla. Their blueberry ice cream is amazeballs! Don’t laugh, I don’t use that word often. The SnoCo Kid, she goes for raspberry and vanilla. I’m not a fan of raspberries unless its jam or a dessert filling. I don’t know why, don’t ask. Then, during the fall, I switch it up and go with pumpkin and vanilla.
The scoops are huge if you can’t tell from the photo. Two is probably more than enough for an adult. I usually go with that, and end up sharing with the dog. She also absolutely loves their ice cream. Yes, she does love anything food, but I’ve never seen her lick anything more clean than their ice cream bowls.
Whether you are there to pick some berries, take in the flowers and view, or indulge in some delicious ice cream, this is one pit stop you absolutely have to make whenever traveling down Highway 20. Don’t even think about it, just do it. You won’t regret it.
Interested in checking out Cascadian Farms, i.e. trying some of their amazing ice cream? Then here is when to go:
May: 10:00 – 6:00
June – September: 9:00-7:00
October: 10 :00-6:00
While you are in the area, also be sure to check out the amazing towns along the way. You can get there using Highway 9 to pass through Sedro Woolley and local only Concrete using Highway 20 (both Skagit County). Or you can follow Highway 530 out of Arlington and pass through Darrington (Snohomish County).
Both ways are an amazing scenic drive and offer opportunities to sample local food and other local options. We love both ways and look forward to stopping by Cascadian Farm throughout the summer to get our ice cream fix!
Did you know that Live the SnoCo Life is more than just an online blog? That’s right, we are also a monthly print and electronic magazine! Our pages are full of local places to shop, eat, drink, and play, as well as local artists, makers, and more. Learn more about subscribing ($0.99-$3.99 a month), which includes exclusive access to recipes, DIY projects, our Top Ten lists, and Beyond Our Borders pieces, HERE.
Live the SnoCo Life is made possible thanks to the support of not only our subscribers, but our business and maker sponsors as well. This feature is brought to you by Original Pilot House Coffees of Monroe, my favorite locally roasted coffee and the only coffee you will find in my home, as well as Lake Stevens Drywall. , and Shed Gal Portable Buildings of Lake Stevens, Snohomish, and Sultan. Interested in becoming an advertiser/sponsor, get info HERE.