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arches
autumn
2012
The morning sun rises over the hills that form the Orting Valley, warming the 40-acre farm that Dan and
Kim Hulse bought three years ago. Dan finishes a conversation with a housepainter and walks with his coffee
cup down a wide dirt path bordered by fields overflowing with late-summer crops.
“Hola!” calls a farmworker carrying a crate full of heirloom tomatoes, picked fresh and headed for cus-
tomers’ kitchens this morning. Dan waves to the man, who is part of a 30-person crew he and Kim employ
during the peak season. Growing and then delivering good food to the table isn’t just a business for the
Hulses. It’s a lifestyle that supports the health of their community. Last January the couple decided to leave
Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood and move to the farm they’d bought in 2009.
“We wanted to introduce our kids to this way of life early on,” says Dan, president and co-founder with
Kim of Terra Organics, a community-supported agriculture (CSA) business delivering seasonal, organic pro-
duce to 1,000 subscribers in three counties throughout the Puget Sound region.
Before buying Tahoma Farms, Dan and Kim leased a 5-acre property in Enumclaw for three years. Kim
put to work her expertise in sustainable farm production, shouldering the brunt of the physical labor. There
were days she couldn’t stand up straight because of so many seasons bent over, harvesting. That’s when they
temporarily stepped away from farming to focus on building their distribution business, Terra Organics, and
to start a family. Now, despite the physical demands and uncertain income from season to season, they are
living their dream.
“I still pinch myself,” says Kim. “It’s hard to believe we’ve come so far.”
They project $2 million in revenues in 2012. Terra Organics has grown by 25 to 30 percent each year since
its start in 2004.
Kim believes so strongly in the importance of their work that she says she’d feel guilty if they stopped.
“It’s really important to provide a reliable source of food. Dan and I have the ability to grow a wide va-
riety of food for our community. A lot of people depend on it,” says Kim, whose parents and grandparents
(Dick ’64 and Carol Strobel Colleran ’64, and Bob ’33 and Elsie Korpela Strobel ’33) and a slew of other rela-
tives, like her husband, are Puget Sound alumni.
Most of their customers are busy professionals who value the convenience of delivery and believe in the
health and environmental benefits of organic foods over conventional. The company offers small boxes (for
one or two people) or big ones (two to four people), and customers can customize orders based on prefer-
ence of food and frequency of delivery. The Terra Organics website (www.terra-organics.com) even provides
recipes for what to do with unusual items like celeriac, a winter vegetable also known as turnip-rooted celery.
{The Risks and Rewards of}
Growing a Life
from the Good Earth
by Sandra Sarr