Carnation Farms: A History of Innovation

In our current age of factory farming and mass consumption, the ethos of stewardship practiced by those farmers who came before us seems to be a fleeting concept. If we take a step back and look at the history of Carnation Farms, maybe we could learn a lesson or two.

Caring for the land and animals on which we rely was a focal point of E.A. Stuart, Carnation Farms’ founder, who purchased 360 acres of Tolt, WA farmland in 1908. Stuart saw a need to increase dairy production while at the same time treating their livestock in such a way to ensure they were happy and healthy. Stuarts’ advertising slogan “milk from contented cows” was the basis on which the farms reputation was built.

Stuart had an early impact in the Snoqualmie Valley, and this impact continues to this day. The farmland originally purchased in 1908 has gone through several transitions, a few different owners, and operational changes, but today it is still known as Carnation Farms and it functions in a manner akin to the early days with a special emphasis on stewardship.  

E.A. Stuart unveiling the monument of “Possum Sweetheart” at the annual Washington State Holstein-Friesian Association picnic, held at Carnation Farms on July 31, 1928

Presently, Carnation Farms is a nonprofit organization and Salmon-Safe certified farm, still owned by the Stuarts and still operating with the historic stewardship practices embodied by E.A. Stuart. Rosy Smit, Director of Sustainable Agriculture Education, boasts “Carnation Farms and Stewardship Partners have been working together since 2013 on sustainability initiatives, community education and environmental stewardship. Our mission is to transform the way that people want to eat, and we celebrate delicious and nutritious food produced in a sustainable manner by providing inspirational and educational experiences that positively affect the health of our community and the environment. We deeply value ecosystem health and working with Stewardship Partners has enabled us to restore large tracts of riverbank and enhance riparian corridors, all the while educating farm guests, and summer camp and youth program participants about how to not only responsibly farm the land but also how we strive to be good stewards of our property. Stewardship Partners provides us with education and ecological restoration expertise, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration and making an impactful difference, not just on our farm but in our local community. We are excited to include ecological education in our Mentorship in Sustainable Agriculture program this year, where our farmers-in-training will experience firsthand how riverbank restoration can impact the local ecology on the farm and in the greater community.”

You can come learn more about Carnation Farms, their commitment to stewardship, and our partnership with them restoring riparian habitat at one of the volunteer events we host there each spring and fall.

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