Updated Sept. 2021:
We spent a day at Carnation Farms and harvested a box of veggies, visited with farm animals, collected a dozen eggs and used all our senses. This family tour of a working-farm is one of the best field trips that we’ve done. It’s an outing we enthusiastically recommend to everyone!
Bonus: the tours are small (up to 12 kids plus their accompanying adults), making social-distancing a piece of cake! (Masks required, by the way.)
Registration and payment online was easy. The farm followed up with an email with specific instructions on where to meet, the schedule of the day, and social distancing rules.
We took a gorgeous drive through the Snoqualmie Valley. Our guide, Rosy Smit, (also the farm’s Agriculture Education Director) met us at the Carnation Farm Store, in her car. We convoyed across a narrow bridge and through an archway of beautiful chestnut trees into the 818-acre farm.
Smell, taste and touch
Talk about a sensory experience! We started off the tour by tasting, touching, and smelling a variety of herbs and spices from a small garden of potted plants. We encountered, Lavender, Winter Mint, Lemon Verbena and plants that tasted like licorice, gum, and a variety of flavors that we had never experienced before.
“Mom! This tastes spicy!” and “These lambs ear leaves are so soft!” were some of the things my 6 and 8-year-old sons were excited to notice, stuffing the sample of leaves into their pockets for further investigation later.
We washed our hands and headed off into the larger garden to pick vegetables for a late summer harvest. A certified organic farm, Carnation Farms supplies fruits and veggies for their farm store, events on the farm (now hosting weekly farm dinners for take-out), outdoor farm classes for children (suspended due to Covid-19) and CSA boxes.
Our guide led us into the garden, and gave us a history of the farm and lots of tips on how to garden at home and in small spaces. We collected large heads of lettuce, tall stalks of rhubarb, squash, kale, cucumbers, zucchini and dozens of sweet tomatoes. The kids enjoyed picking their own veggies. We were all excited to think about what we would make with each one.
As if that wasn’t enough, we were in for a treat – a blackberry treat! Hidden under bird netting were huge bushes of thorn-less blackberries! Rosy helped us pick a few to snack on, while she put our produce away in the cooler. Stained with blackberry hands and mouths my boys chimed, “These are the best blackberries I’ve ever tasted! And no thorns!”
Collecting farm fresh eggs and visiting the animals were definitely a highlight of the tour. We visited with the chicks, which flitted around in an enormous box, warming under heat lamps.
“Aww, they are so cute! I wish we could take them home,” said my oldest son, Nikhil.
We headed off to the chicken coop to collect our eggs and feed the chickens.
“Carefully place your hand under the chicken and check to see if there are any eggs,” Rosy instructed. My boys reached into each nest gently grabbing eggs of different colors and sizes, placing them into baskets. A couple chickens pecked at their hands, but Rosy quickly intervened and helped with the rest of the collection.
The boys decide they want chickens
Rosy led us to the back of the coop, separated from the rest of the field by an electric fence (turned off when guests visit). A dozen chickens of all different kinds surrounded us.
“That one has a wig on!” screamed both children referring to one of the hens.
We knelt, holding out palms full of feed, and waited for the chickens to come to us. The friendliest (and maybe hungriest) chickens came around after a few minutes, and pecked away at our hands. At this point both boys were beside themselves, already making plans with each other to raise chicks at home.
With the help of our guide, we all had a chance to hold and cuddle the nicest chickens of the brood. Rosy showed us how to carefully scoop up the chickens and hold them in a cradling position. My youngest, Simon, held the rooster in his hands noticing how fast the heartbeat felt and how soft the feathers were against his own skin.
“It’s really tickly,” he said.
We weren’t able to handle the other livestock, but we gobbled with the turkeys and baaed with the sheep as they lay in the grass.
We ended our tour back by the parking lot for a bathroom break, and had our lunch on covered outdoor tables. Our guide went on to start her farm chores and checked back in with us to deliver our veggie box and show us the farm’s tractors.
Beeping the horn and steering the wheels of tractors ended an already wonderful day out. We got back into our car already thinking about the next time we’d be back for another visit.
A little extra…
Stop at the Carnation Farms Stand on your way out to visit the butcher and get some local ice-cream. Offering lite bites and food from the farm’s chef, the store also sells local wines and a selection of locally-sourced cheeses and dairy products: all delicious reminders of a fun experience on the farm.
Things to know about Carnation Farms:
Availability: One-hour tours available beginning at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
Bring and wear a mask
Inform your guide of any allergies before you begin your tour
Dress for the weather (sturdy shoes and rain gear)
Stroller-friendly (need heavy wheels)
Fall field trips include pumpkin picking and a new rotation of themes
Bring gloves. Some veggies are prickly to handle.
More fall and farm fun in Seattle’s Child: