CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 13 Kung Fu - Page 100

Our Journey Down the Garden Path: adventures in Brewery Startup Part ii Article by Ron Extract, Garden Path Fermentation Images by Ron Extract and Amber Watts This is part two of a four-part series by Amber Watts and Ron Extract on the process of starting up Garden Path Fermentation in Washington State. Spring is a magical time in Washington’s Skagit Valley. Expansive emerald fields surround rows of brightly colored tulips and daffodils, with views of the snow-capped Cascade Mountains to the east and the San Juan Islands to the west. It’s easy to understand how a place like this could inspire the sort of romantic dream that led my partner, Amber Watts, and I to come here to start Garden Path Fermentation. We imagined our own stretch of farmland, where we could grow and cultivate grains, hops, honey, and fruit, which native microflora would slowly transform into delicious beer, mead, cider, perry, and wine that we would age, curate, blend, and ultimately present to guests on the land from which those ingredients had sprung. Our focus remains firmly fixed on this vision, but as we have begun to make our way toward it, we’ve also gained a clearer perspective of some of the obstacles that could stand in our way. Part of our long-term vision also involves trans- forming local agricultural products into food, which we see as an integral component of the type of agri-tourism destination that we hope to build. Whether this is something that the county considers an allowable use of what it has desig- nated Agricultural Natural Resource Land, how- ever, remains something of an open question. The Skagit County Code specifically allows for agricultural accessory use, including “activities associated with tourism which promote local ag- riculture.” Although there are many residents and public officials within the county who sup- port our project, there are also those who are nervous about applying the provision in this way. We had begun what could have a been a six-month long process to seek an official ruling from the county about whether this was some- thing that we would be allowed to do at our pro- spective site. Unfortunately, for reasons having nothing to do with zoning, the process has not