“I love being here, I love the Skagit Valley, I love the land,” says Lauren Hedlin, a 28-year-old fourth-generation farmer in the Skagit delta. “And I feel a sense of pride in knowing that we’re helping to feed the world.”
Fifty percent of the world’s cabbage seed is grown in the Skagit delta, including on the 400-acre farm where Lauren works with her parents Dave Hedlin and Serena Campbell and other family members. The seed crops—cabbages, spinach and beets—have sustained the farm since 1906, but they’ve diversified into other operations, including Lauren’s special charge: a 50-acre market garden where they grow more than 100 varieties of organic fruits and vegetables for sale at their farm stand and at local farmers markets.
The Hedlins also grow another crop: shorebirds. They have participated for several years in The Nature Conservancy’s Farming for Wildlife project, where they flood part of their farm fields to create freshwater habitat for shorebirds. Research has determined that this rotational flooding can be beneficial for both birds and farmers, creating habitat for one and increasing soil productivity for the other.
The Hedlin family values stewardship. “I want to be here, and farming, for the rest of my life,” Lauren says. “I know that means I have to be involved in taking care of this place.”