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Island Grown San Juans article

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Friday Farm Feature: Seagate Farm!

John Latimer and Ben Squire have just celebrated the third year anniversary of Seagate Farm. The decision to embark on farming in the San Juan Islands was rooted in family connections and a shared love for hard cider. The island's climate, mirroring that of traditional cider apple regions in England and France, creates an ideal environment for apple cultivation. Seagate Farm contributes to preserving heirloom apples and pears, ensuring the continuation of rare varieties for hard cider and culinary uses. Seagate’s fruits appeal to local producers seeking fresh quality products, particularly those fruits that have thrived in the San Juan Islands for over a century.

The inspiration behind Seagate Farm's name comes from the idyllic beach village of Seagate in Brooklyn, New York, a cherished place from Ben's mother's childhood. John says that “Seagate always sounded like a mythical utopia to us, so we thought it would be both inspirational and a wonderful way to honor her life by naming our farm after Harriet’s happy place.” To also honor John’s mother, they named the orchard Kay’s Orchard.

Seagate Farm's ecological practices reflect a dedication to organic farming principles, adopting the Swiss Sandwich Method with low-density orchard rows alternated with bee pollinators and native plants. This meticulous, time-intensive approach aligns with the farm's ethos of leaving the earth better than found. The historical essence of Seagate Farm, once a fruit orchard and cattle pasture, is woven into its present as two dozen 100-year-old apple and pear trees from the original Sandwith orchard stand as vital elements of the growing farm. The orchard now boasts 353 fruit trees, featuring 58 distinct heirloom varieties. Information about all of the fruits, nuts, and berries can be found on Seagate Farm’s website.

As a recipient of a 2022 FARM Fund Grant offered by the San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild, Seagate Farm was able to add bee pollinator/native plants and seeds, compost, and mulch. The grant also provided assistance for additional irrigation for the orchard. As a new contributor to San Juan County's farming legacy, Seagate Farm strives to enhance water and soil health, provide fresh fruit, and foster meaningful connections within the island community.

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