What’s Happening at the Market: Meet Tampopo Farm

Sequim’s spring is finally in full swing. For confirmation of this good news, look no further than the beautiful market booth awash with bright, cheerful produce by Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market’s newest vendor, Tampopo Farm.

The 2-acre farm is the impassioned creation of husband-and-wife duo of Matt Rohanna and Teresa Shiraishi, who together grow a range of produce including salad greens, fresh roots and mixed vegetables along with seasonal mixed bouquets and bunched flowers.

Leasing land from their Sequim Market-mates River Run Farm, Tampopo Farm prioritizes organic growing practices, using natural pest control and no pesticides, with aims for organic certification down the line.

Though it’s difficult to tell by their plentiful market displays, the farm’s first year in operation has presented an array of diverse challenges typical in the inconstant world of agriculture.

“This year has been a lot of figuring out the land,” Shiraishi says.

Matt has farmed this same land before, having worked for five years on River Run Farm previously, she says, but not the exact spot that Tampopo Farm is on.

“So, we’re figuring out our soil type, what our pests are, and what our weeds look like,” she says.

“We’re really getting acquainted and building for the future with our land,” says Shiraishi. “It’s a lot of just trying things and just seeing what happens!”

Tampopo Farm has already demonstrated a strong resiliency in response to the unique challenges that have arisen in their first growing season.

“Things haven’t been going exactly as we expected,” Shiraishi says.

“One of the biggest obstacles is just how cold this spring has been. We got a freeze on May 13, which is the latest any of us have seen while living out here.

“I had a bunch of flowers that died.”

“Things that are more tender like that didn’t make it,” she says. “Which surprised us because it was already May. That was a bummer to lose a big chunk of our first succession.”

But Shiraishi and Rohanna arrived at their first farmers market with a robust display of crisp produce and cheerful smiles on their faces. Shiraishi shares that their individual personalities balance out the unexpected nature of their work.

“Matt has this steadfastness to go, “Yup, that’s okay. We’ll have those flowers in the second succession,” Shiraishi says.

Shiraishi says that the duo complements each other as working partners in many ways. Rohanna provides the solidity of his farming knowledge, with over seven years of intensive farming under his belt; Shiraishi rounds out the project with her artistic nature — bringing the operation’s flowers to life, overseeing marketing, and creating a warm and welcoming booth space each Saturday.

Although they each possess unique strengths, Shiraishi says they end up working together in nearly almost every realm on the farm.

Behind the name

Shiraishi, whose mother immigrated to the United States in her late 20s, is half-Japanese. Rohanna speaks fluent Japanese, after having studied the language and spending time living in Japan. This connection formed the basis for the pair’s initial meeting as Rohanna was introduced to Shiraishi as a Japanese tutor.

“Matt suggested Tampopo Farm for our name,” says Shiraishi. “Tampopo is the word for dandelion in Japanese and dandelions have a symbolism of resiliency. You can mow them to the ground, and they will come back up! That feels really important to us as our mantra for farming.”

Shiraishi shares that “Tampopo” is also an affectionate nickname used by her and her brother for their mother.

Kicking off things at the farmers market

“It feels really good to have gotten our first market under our belt,” says Shiraishi. “We’ve put so much energy and effort into our start-up. It felt really good on Saturdays to be like, ‘Wow! Here it is. We’re finally harvesting!’”

“That interaction, face-to-face, has been really fun,” she says. “It totally surpassed what we expected.”

Although Tampopo Farm was welcomed to the market on an overcast and drizzly day, Shiraishi says that the community showed up to support the new farm and stock up on their tasty offerings.

“It felt as though there were people there who were like, ‘I come to the Sequim Market to buy my vegetables rain or shine!’ and that was such a comforting and beautiful thing to see.”

Having lived in the community for many years, Shiraishi says that she’s happy to see the growth and evolution of the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market and the local food community.

“At the market, there’s the ability to develop relationships. There’s something really gratifying for both customer and farmer to be able to talk directly,” says Shiraishi. “There’s something inherently valuable about it.”

“Right now, just recognizing the isolating time we’re in, it is especially crucial to have intentional spaces where people can connect like the market.”

Tampopo Farm is at the Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market every Saturday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. through October. Visit your community market at Sequim Civic Center Plaza at North Sequim Avenue and West Cedar Street.

Be sure to tune in on Thursday at 4 p.m. to KSQM 91.5 FM for the live radio “Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market Update.”

Emma Jane Garcia is the director for the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market. See sequimmarket.com.

Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market

Open: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 30

Location: Sequim Civic Center Plaza and Centennial Place, downtown Sequim

More info: manager@sequimmarket.com

On the web: sequimmarket.com

Photo courtesy of Tampopo Farm
Teresa Shiraishi and Matt Rohanna stand outside their greenhouse at Tampopo Farm.

Photo courtesy of Tampopo Farm Teresa Shiraishi and Matt Rohanna stand outside their greenhouse at Tampopo Farm.

Photo by Emma Jane Garcia

Photo by Emma Jane Garcia