Today, Town & Country (T&C) Markets, one of few local, independent and family-owned and run markets across the Puget Sound, is celebrating nearly 100 years of growing food and farmers at its Bainbridge Island farm, MiddleField Farm. Owned by Town & Country Markets, the Nakata Family business, the farm was originally purchased in 1924.
“Our family bought the farm, at the time a strawberry farm, 25 years after emigrating from Japan, tending the soil, planting and picking berries and raising their children,” said Susan Allen, Sr. Director of Brand Development Town & Country Markets. “The land went fallow for decades, bringing the family together to discuss its future. After this gathering, my dad, Don Nakata, wrote a family mission for the land – it would offer a sense of belonging, the pride of association, the comfort of connectivity and the power of idealistic purpose – aligning with our family’s values. There was no question – it would be transformed into a farm again.”
The generations-old farm is currently run by organic farmer Brian MacWhorter, who joined in 2005 and is raising organic fruits, vegetables and flowers and passing along decades of organic farming experience to interns hungry to create a healthier food system.
Brian works to supply Town & Country Markets with fresh produce daily, leading his crew to harvest what can be sold and enjoyed later that day. A founder of the successful Eugene, OR, collaborative Organically Grown, he said, “It’s a unique, one-of-a-kind thing T&C is doing for their consumers. They’re growing it on their family farm, allowing people to take home the best quality and healthiest food. That’s why I partnered with this company—because they have that integrity. And that’s what it’s all about.”
T&C’s founders named the farm MiddleField because their name, Nakata, means “Middle Field” in Japanese. Today, you’ll find zucchini, squash, tomatoes, sunflowers, green beans, radishes, lettuce, beets and assorted winter squash, flourishing in the rich soil.
Brian is committed to transferring his organic growing knowledge to future farmers. He created an internship program to teach organic growing techniques in our challenging climate, hosting three to four interns annually. The program runs from March through the end of October, annually. Interested individuals can get more information on this program at Town & Country Farms “Growing Their Own. Graduates of his program have gone on to run farms, food banks and gardens nationwide.
Images of MiddleField Farms can be found here. Credit to Patrick Bennett.