Balyn Rose’s history as a person has been intertwined with the art of growing food. The rural land he was raised on was used intermittently to grow produce for local farmers markets.
“I think that experience stuck with me as I got older,” Rose says.
“As I moved out on my own, I started thinking more about taking care of myself food-wise and not just eating junk food,” he says.
Motivated and mindful, Rose was drawn to a program at the University of California-Santa Cruz that taught ecological principals as applied to agricultural practices. It was in that class that Rose met his wife, Elli.
The couple bonded over their love of growing food and embarked on an exciting journey farming together.
In 2016, they moved to the Olympic Peninsula with their young family and began Joy Farm, a mixed vegetable operation.
Joy Farm is comprised of only two adult humans, but its existence wouldn’t be possible without the unique contribution of two very special farm-workers: Bud and Bruce, two draft horses who, in place of tractors, are behind all traction power on the farm.
“Right now I feel like I have this great team of two horses that are just awesome,” Rose says. “They’ve been here for several years and we can do anything together and it’s just so comfortable. Everyone feels good about it — me and the horses!”
Having a cohesive team of horses isn’t something that Rose created overnight. Rose has taken care to attentively familiarize himself with each of their “horse-inalities,” as he calls them. Rose practices gentle horsemanship based on a philosophy of engaging with horses in a way that centers the horse’s instincts and methods of communication.
“It’s about understanding horses for who they are and how to work with them as partners,” he says.
“It is a really special thing to have that kind of interaction with horses, but also with other animals, plants, and humans,” Rose says.
“Learning to listen and watch all lifeforms, they all have their own language. Everything, including people, has it’s own distinct way of communicating, and it’s important to tune into their language to work well cooperatively.”
Joy Farm brings this incredible attention to language to everything they do. By staying in sync with the communications and cues of their crops, they’ve developed streamlined systems for growing high quality produce.
“Our goal is not to be super diverse in our crop production,” Rose says. “We select the things that we’ve learned to grow really well and that have shown us like to grow in our climate.
“To us, it’s the growing experience that is most valuable. At this point, we’re pretty close to dialed into what works best for us and the plants.”
Joy Farm is motivated to provide food to all members of their community.
“We first and foremost want to prioritize affordability and access to food,” Rose says.
Market guests can expect to see strawberries at the beginning of the season, followed by broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, garlic, zucchini and cucumbers throughout the summer.
Later in the fall, Joy Farm brings a colorful array of winter squash.
All of Joy Farm’s produce is grown with certified organic practices.
“For the community as a whole, markets are a great gathering place in a lot of ways,” Rose says. “It’s a great place for anyone who wants to connect with their local producers. It’s the place to get the freshest product, with almost all of it being harvested fresh, within a day or two prior to market.
“That’s a big benefit compared to the stuff that has many steps and miles added to it, by the time you would get it at the supermarket.”
You can find Joy Farm’s delicious, organic produce every Saturday, from 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. at the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market, located at Sequim Civic Center plaza.
Emma Jane Garcia is Marketing Manager for the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market. See www.sequimmarket.com.