Boasting a rich agricultural history, Lewis County is home to more than 1,700 farms. One noteworthy operation is Boistfort Valley Farm, located in Curtis and owned by Mike and Heidi Peroni. While farming is a notoriously difficult endeavor, what drew the Peronis down that path was the desire to nourish their neighbors.
“Mike and I both grew up in families that loved to feed people,” says Heidi. “My grandmother’s garden was my favorite place to be as a child, and I didn’t feel at home in my work until I started farming as an adult.”
Before moving to Curtis, the couple leased land in Independence Valley. When they decided to purchase their own farm, Lewis County beckoned and they landed in the verdant Boistfort Valley. Founded in 2003, their organic farm produces corn, squash, pumpkins, and berries.
Mike and Heidi participate in the Community Farmers Market of Chehalis, deliver winter produce boxes and host a handful of annual events. A popular one is the fun pumpkin patch in October, where the first Saturday includes a party with cider pressing and music. Years past, they’ve hosted a mid-summer berry festival, celebrating the harvest. For the first time this year, they will feature Fridays at the Farm, July through October, open from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Family is essential to the success of the farm, especially since Mike and Heidi both have day jobs that take time away from the ever-growing to-do list. Luckily, Heidi’s mom helps out regularly, from harvesting corn to assisting at the farmers market and events. The Peronis definitely keep her busy during the summer season. Their daughter, Natalina, has been a real blessing since she started attending the farmers market this past summer. She makes the most of the deal where she gets to sell what she picks herself. Finally, friends who are more like family also pitch in with events and big jobs on the farm, like transplanting seedlings.
Community is vital to the Peronis too, probably never more so than after the flood in 2007. Two feet of water flooded their house and the barn and outbuildings held more like four or five feet. They lost tractors, trucks and more. A local fisherman rescued them off their porch in his boat. They ended up renting a place down the road until they could get back into their house. For a while, they relied on the Baw Faw Grange, which opened its doors daily, serving meals for about six months.
The local community provided amazing support as the family rebuilt their farm. “Everyone pulled together after the flood,” says Mike. “They showed true community and true humanity.”
The Peronis give back, in turn. Lucy Page of Santa Lucia Coffee in Chehalis has known Mike and Heidi for about 12 years and considers them dear friends. “I have witnessed their love and service to the community, as well as enjoyed their amazing produce,” she says. “I have attended their strawberry festival, walked their fields, danced and sung to the music of some their favorite musicians at farm parties and cultivated the sense of community our world needs so desperately right now. They are always happy to donate or lend a helping hand when it comes to supporting community events!”
For instance, when selling at the farmers market, the farm donates leftover produce to SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education). Last year the program collected 900 pounds of food from the Community Farmers Market to feed those in need.
The owners of Boistfort Valley Farm also provide jobs and advice for aspiring farmers like Bryon Kennedy. He began working on the farm in October 2019. “I never imagined I’d be so lucky to find someone like Mike and Heidi, with the breadth of knowledge, experience and a willingness to take a chance on me,” Bryon says. “That’s what farmers do – they take a chance on everything all the time so that you can eat. How awesome is that?”
As for upcoming plans, the farm will increase its berry production and add in the Friday at the Farm evenings. Another new and exciting development is bringing back their summer CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). The summer shares include a variety of outstanding vegetables and fruit, along with storage tips and simple recipes to help enjoy them. Each week brings the freshest produce of the season, harvested from Boistfort Valley Farm and other northwest farms. Produce arrives at neighborhood locations each week from mid-June through October.
During these current, unusual times, the Peronis keep doing what they have been doing…growing good food. They are happy to do so in Lewis County, a place where people support agriculture and get excited about local, real food.
Boistfort Valley Farm
426 Boistfort Rd.