The DeVries family moved from the Netherlands in the 1950s and settled in Skagit Valley. Ralph DeVries planted a big garden when he retired, never using chemical pesticides or fertilizers because, as he said, “We didn’t use them in the old country!”
Now Ralph’s Greenhouse – the farm’s name comes from an actual house painted green and not from a hothouse – grows certified organic leeks, greens, beets and other cold-weather crops, as well as seasonal zucchini, carrots, variety greens and chards, and red and yellow potatoes. You can find all those in the Produce departments in our markets.
Ralph’s Greenhouse is now under the leadership of Ralph’s son, Ray, who retired from the dairy business in the 1980s. Ray De Vries was named 2014 Farmer of the Year by Tilth Producers of Washington, an association of organic and sustainable agricultural producers.
The farm sits on the fertile floodplain of the Skagit River just west of Mount Vernon north of Seattle. The Skagit carries rich minerals and glacial till through the amazingly rock-free farmland.
More than 45 acres of this farm are devoted to what have been described as “stunning” leeks – characterized by long thick stalks of white “meat” that can help create a rich, hearty winter soup, for example. The leek harvest starts in August and, thanks to the Skagit Valley’s climate and soil, continues through the cold days of winter as well as the gradually warming spring. In fact, the leek harvest typically continues until mid-May. Carrots benefit from these conditions, as well.