It all began with a bike trip, as it often does on Orcas Island. We (Doug and David) and our son Carter were bicycling around the San Juan Islands in 2002, and ended up on Orcas Island, where we knew we were home. The rural and peaceful sense of community on Orcas inspired two city boys who had grown up on or near farms to buy a hundred year old farm in the middle of the island, with the hope of creating a center for education, environmental advocacy and biodynamic farming. We wanted to create a sustainable organic farm that could demonstrate how farming, healthy food and protecting the environment was essential to our success and survival as a species.
The mission of OrcaSong Farm began to take shape: To create a botanical destination and community education center for both visitors and locals of Orcas Island. A place where all can discover the joys of healthy living, being outdoors, growing food, protecting the earth and connecting with others.
After experimenting with different business, crop and stewardship models for farming , it became clear that to sustain a farm on Orcas Island, we needed to grow more than hay and vegetables. We researched plants that would thrive in the dry summers of Orcas and the wet winters of Puget Sound. We learned about lavender- an ancient plant that has many healing properties and is used in many ways to sustain and nourish life. We planted an acre of lavender and then some more, and today we have eleven acres of Grosso and Provence lavender under cultivation. We partnered with Pelindaba Lavender, our sister farm on San Juan Island and agreed to supply the lavender oil for their many products and stores.
Our next step seemed like an easy one—distill our lavender harvest into hydrosols and lavender oil. First, we had to first buy a still and teach ourselves distilling--no easy task. Once the lavender fields began to bloom, people began to stop by the farm because, as we found out, everyone enjoys looking and walking among acres of blooming lavender. Visitors started to ask if they could stay for awhile, and enjoy the view. We refurbished the old farm house on the property to create a guest house with three bedrooms for families and large groups, and added a small lavender suite looking out onto the lavender fields. We decided to refurbish the front garden for weddings, events and education.
In 2018-19 we added a pond, created a sustainable play area for toddlers and developed our OrcaSong Sensory Garden. We began experimenting with other medicinal and aromatic botanicals to grow and distill that loved our climate. Now, we want to introduce the rest of the world to the healing, magical properties of Orcas Island. The old barn renovation was next…a true architectural treasure of the island which has served as a home for livestock, an artists’ studio, a gallery and a gathering place through the years.
But our mission still remains at the center of what we do at OrcaSong Farm: to create a destination where people can learn, connect, and become inspired by the magic of our island. A place to enjoy the wonders of being outdoors, eating healthy food, connecting with others and taking care of the earth.
Sally Spicer & Ariana Terrence
Sally & Ariana fell in love with Orcas Island and decided that’s where they wanted to get married. Leaving high pressure jobs in Los Angeles, they headed for Orcas Island to live the life they always wanted—working the land as farmers and educating those with little farming background on the gifts and possibilities of healing plants, farm to kitchen living, and creating a destination farm which welcomes everyone.
Patrick has lived on Orcas Island for over thirty years, and enjoys living off the land and teaching others how to do so. In addition to raising four sons and his own garden for many years, he now enjoys helping others grow healthy, nutritious food, and then enjoy eating it!
Shannon Belthor, the Artistic Director of OrcaSong Farm, is a lifelong and accomplished artist, woodworker, designer and builder who has built or revitalized many structures and gardens on Orcas Island and around the country. She draws, sculpts, teaches, and brings into being beautiful images and ideas.
David Dotlich & Doug Elwood
David & Doug founded OrcaSong Farm to accomplish three things: 1. Improve life on Orcas Island through sustainable businesses and farms, 2. Bend the curve on the degradation of the environment through education and workshops, and 3. To demonstrate the principles of social capitalism and enlightened entrepreneurship and building employee centered businesses. David is a corporate executive who founded and sold several businesses and Doug was a psychologist and currently a designer-- before they discovered the fun and challenges of farming on Orcas Island.
ORCASONG is an operating farm on Orcas Island in the beautiful San Juan Archipelago, with the mission of researching, teaching, demonstrating, and inspiring agricultural and environmental sustainability. We have four broad goals:
To improve the health of the environment by “bending the curve” on current climate trends and enhance long term stewardship of the land through education, workshops, outreach, agri-tourism, and farm-stay programs.
To improve the health of all by growing and developing herbs and plants, using ancient and modern insights around healing and wellness.
To build a sustainable farming business according to the principles of conscious and sustainable economics.
To improve and sustain life on Orcas Island.