Updated February 2018
San Juan Island is nicknamed the “banana belt” of Washington State, because it is in a rain shadow, protected by the Olympic Mountains on one side and Vancouver Island on the other. The beautiful valleys in the center of the island are lush, rolling pastures for cattle, sheep and goats. Countless farms, producing lavender, sea salt, apple cider, wine, flowers, wool, produce, cheese and meat, are calling San Juan Island their home.
Visit the Saturday Farmer’s Market or the San Juan Food Coop to get an idea of just how many lovely things people produce and make here. Most Island Farms love visitors and give tours by appointment. If you are a foodie, animal lover or just love the beauty of farming, you will be enchanted by San Juan Island.
Below find our absolute favorite San Juan Island farms, which are not only drop-dead gorgeous, but also make awesome things to take home or bring as souvenirs.
“Pelindaba” means “Place of great gatherings” in Zulu. Close to 20 years ago Stephen Robins, who has South African roots, acquired today’s farm site to simply protect it from development. Since then it grew, literally and figuratively, from a piece of land with some pretty purple scrubs to the vertically integrated model of sustainable agriculture it is today. Pelindaba grows and manufactures certified organic, handcrafted, lavender products for botanical, culinary, body care, therapeutic, and household use and distributes them nationwide. Rolling fields of lavender with the snow-covered Olympic Mountains as the backdrop, gorgeous artwork, a farm store with over 200 products to discover, a demonstration garden and the cutting fields make this a lovely place to spend your day.
The farm is open to the public from April through October, with the “Peak of Purpleness” being July & August. Admission is free. Stephen gives free walking tours during July & August. Don’t miss the Summer Lavender Craft Workshops and the unforgettable Lavender Festival in July.
We at the Earthbox Inn & Spa source all of the body care products for our guest rooms from Pelindaba. They smell and feel amazing. We use bulk containers to dispense them, cutting down on unnecessary packaging and waste. Your shampoo has traveled less than you to get to your room.
Kris and Albert Olson fell in love with Alpacas when they won a pair at an auction. Since then they acquired a breathtakingly beautiful 80 acres farm near English Camp. Their herd has grown to over 70 animals.
Alpaca wool is more than five times warmer than sheep wool. It comes in 22 natural colors, a wider range than any other animal. Alpaca wool is so soft that most people can’t tell the difference from cashmere. Alpacas are shy and would rather not be petted, but may let you do so when in a halter. They hum to each other and spit as a form of communication. They only spit at people when provoked. Don’t try that.