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Gordon Skagit Farms -- a bountiful harvest

Gordon Skagit Farms — a bountiful harvest

“As Gill says, “every man is called to give love to the work of his hands. Every man is called to be an artist.” The small family farm is one of the last places – they are getting rarer every day – where men and women (and girls and boys, too) can answer that call to be an artist, to learn to give love to the work of their hands. It is one of the last places where the maker – and some farmers still do talk about “making the crops” – is responsible, from start to finish, for the thing made. This certainly is a spiritual value, but it is not for that reason an impractical or uneconomic one. In fact, from the exercise of this responsibility, this giving of love to the work of the hands, the farmer, the farm, the consumer, and the nation all stand to gain in the most practical ways: They gain the means of life, the goodness of food, and the longevity and dependability of the sources of food, both natural and cultural. The proper answer to the spiritual calling becomes, in turn, the proper fulfillment of physical need.”
― Wendell Berry, Bringing it to the Table: Writings on Farming and Food

Gordon Skagit Farms does a great job marrying farming and art.  A visit there is a visual feast.

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Pen and ink sketches of squashes and pumpkins

Pen and ink sketches of squashes and pumpkins

In a pumpkin shell, Gordon Skagit Farms

In a pumpkin shell, Gordon Skagit Farms

Gordon Skagit Farms showcases over 60 varieties of pumpkins, squashes, and gourds:  carving pumpkins, cooking pumpkins and squashes, specialty pumpkins, heirloom varieties, ornamental gourds, and apples, cider, ornamental corn and decorative cornstalks.  And the colors!  Sunset hues, to ghostly whites, sage, and blue greens.  Warty and smooth.  It’s worth the trip to revel in such bounty.

I found them quite photogenic, too.

Pumpkins lining a path, Gordon Skagit Farms

Pumpkins lining a path, Gordon Skagit Farms

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For Bonnie

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Pumpkin painting by Eddie Gordon

Pumpkin painting by Eddie Gordon

Gordon Skagit Farms

Gordon Skagit Farms

I suppose some people go to Gordon Skagit Farms for the pumpkins, squashes and gourds (they have over 60 varieties).  Or maybe they make the trip for the U-pick apples or pumpkin patch or corn maze.  Or perhaps they come to see the spooky Halloween dioramas and displays.  But the big draw for me is Eddie Gordon’s art.  His big paintings anchor many of the displays on the grounds.  Last year when I first wrote about Gordon’s (you can look back at that post here), I was totally bowled over by the concept of celebrating art on a working farm.  This year I was even more impressed to see that most of Eddie’s paintings were new.  What an amazing talent and body of work!

Here are some photos of Eddie Gordon’s paintings this year:

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Gordon Skagit Farm

Gordon Skagit Farm

Gordon Skagit Farms

Yesterday I took a drive to the Skagit Valley to meet up with some women friends for a few hours of painting at Gordon Skagit Farms.  This was my second trip to Gordon’s, which is open only during the month of October, and I hope to make it an annual tradition.  I’ll write more about Gordon Skagit Farms in my next two posts, but for today, I will share the experience of making art with friends.  The setting couldn’t be more convivial — Eddie Gordon displays his own paintings around the farm (quite an inspiration), we’re in the glorious countryside, and the sheer variety of pumpkins, gourds, and squashes is mind-boggling.

Weathered barn at Gordon Skagit Farms

Weathered barn at Gordon Skagit Farms

One of Eddie Gordon'ss paintings displayed outside with pumpkins and squashes

One of Eddie Gordon’s paintings displayed outside with pumpkins and squashes

I loved the colors in this squash.

I loved the colors in this squash.

Mary drawing

Mary drawing

Libby working on her journal

Libby working on her journal

Here's the page Libby completed at Gordon's

Here’s the page Libby completed at Gordon’s

Nacy painting

Nancy painting

Anne sketching

Anne sketching

Missy's journal and palette

Missy’s journal and palette

Missy starting a new painting

Missy starting a new painting

My first watercolor sketch at Gordon's

My first watercolor sketch at Gordon’s

My second watercolor sketch at Gordon's

My second watercolor sketch at Gordon’s

Watercolor sketch from a photo I took at Gordon's last year

Watercolor sketch from a photo I took at Gordon’s last year

Ghostly scene in the barn at Gordon Skagit Farms

“From ghoulies and ghosties,
Long-leggity beasties,
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord deliver us.”
— Old Spell

I promised a post about the haunted barn at Gordon Skagit Farms, and here it is, just in time for Halloween.

Farmer and painter Eddie Gordon’s artistry is evident in the haunting vignettes he created in the old cow barn.  The scenes are set like little stages.  Very clever.

Scene 1: Awakening

Scene 2: A meeting

Scene 3: A haunting

Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

 

Wreath of straw flowers, Gordon Skagit Farms

We got a behind-the-scenes look at some of the flower beds that supplied the decorative displays and items for sale at Gordon Skagit Farms.  I was particularly drawn to the soft, pastel coloring and the tight patterns of petals on the straw flowers.

Straw flowers are also called everlastings.

Straw flower trio

Such beautiful flowers in quiet colors

Straw flower

Posterized photo of straw flower bed

I think the posterized effect works well with this flower.

One final posterized image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giant chrysanthemum at Gordon Skagit Farms

“For his morning tea
a monk sits down in utter silence
confronted by chrysanthemums.”
— Basho

“When the winter chrysanthemums go
there’s nothing to write about
but radishes.”
— Basho

Chrysanthemums are signature fall flowers.  In high school, the corsages for the fall homecoming dance were specially ordered giant chrysanthemums.  My mother always planted mums in the narrow flower beds on the west side of the house.  When I saw these chrysanthemums at the Gordon Skagit Farms, they reminded me of her.

Giant chrysanthemum

Orange and bronze mums

White mums

Yellow Leaves  — Red Leaves
by David Budbill, from While We’ve Still Got Feet

Yellow leaves,
red leaves,
brown leaves,
chrysanthemums,

and day and night

geese
pointing south
and crying:
Good bye!

Pumpkin paintings displayed on the side of an old barn — Gordon Skagit Farms

The highlight of my day trip to Gordon Skagit Farms was the art.  Eddie Gordon, one of the Gordon farmers, is also a talented artist, and he displays his large paintings en plein air.  (He is also offering three prints for sale this year.)  I thought the presentation of art on the farm was delightful.  I’ll show you some photos, but I highly recommend that you make a visit this month to see the paintings in person.

Close-up photo of pumpkin on the barn

Old truck with another of Eddie Gordon’s paintings, a rural landscape

A painting outdoors amidst the pumpkins and gourds

Painting of a rural road is hung over an old concrete watering trough

Another painting set back from the produce tables

Enjoy a painting while you grab a wheelbarrow for your pumpkin purchases.

Detail of another pumpkin painting by Eddie Gordon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The last fruit of summer becomes a lantern to guide us.”
— original quote by Eddie Gordon, on a sign at Gordon Skagit Farms

The old barn with Eddie Gordon’s pumpkin paintings, Gordon Skagit Farms

Pumpkins (decorative and edible) for sale

October is a perfect time for a drive in the country.  The charms of the harvest season are evident in the Skagit Valley, just one hour north of Seattle.  The snow geese are returning to their winter feeding grounds near Conway.  Farmers have gathered the bounty from their fields and are preparing for winter.  Apple trees are yielding their fruit.  And this is the month for visits to the pumpkin patch.

I met some friends to see the pumpkins at Gordon Skagit Farms near Mount Vernon.  The two Gordon brothers offer a wide array of specialty gourds and pumpkins, all grown locally on their farm.  During the month of October, this agricultural bounty — decorative and/or edible —  is showcased in strikingly designed displays, and there is a U-pick apple orchard and a U-pick pumpkin patch if you want to get your hands dirty.  The whole presentation is inviting and welcoming, but a definite step up from a gimmicky Halloween destination.  (The Gordons have created a haunted barn, with little staged vignettes, but I won’t spoil your surprise now.  I’ll do another post about the haunted barn on Halloween.)

My favorite aspect of my visit was definitely the art.  Eddie Gordon displays his large paintings outside amidst the farm implements and pumpkins.  It’s like a gallery show en plein air.  I don’t want to overwhelm you, so tomorrow’s post will focus on the art.

Today’s post celebrates the harvest — the pumpkins and the gourds.  Enjoy!

Pumpkins for sale — Gordon Skagit Farms

I loved these turban gourds.

Mini-pumpkins in orange and white. If you have an old wooden pop bottle case, display these little pumpkins instead of pop bottles.

Pumpkin on an old yellow Ford tractor.

A school group in the U-pick pumpkin patch

Decorative Indian corn and straw flowers

Apple baskets

An unusually beautiful gourd — love the color and texture and shape!

Mixed gourds — such variety!

Green striped gourds by the barn — Gordon Skagit Farms

Sneak preview of one scene in the haunted barn. Stay tuned for a post about the barn on Halloween.