Cristina Waltner and her brother, Tom Shane, have been selling strawberries at stands across northwestern Washington for nearly 40 years.
“There is nothing like a freshly picked strawberry,” says Cristina Waltner as she plucks a plump red berry from a sea of green leaves and gently places it in her box. “Washington berries have wonderful flavor, but they’re very fragile.”
Taking advantage of demand for locally produced fruits and vegetables, Waltner and her brother, Tom Shane, sell their just-picked organic and conventional strawberries at stands across northwestern Washington. “We’ve been selling berries directly to consumers since the ’70s,” says Waltner, “mostly around the Mount Vernon area.”
This year, the siblings have stands at Skagit Farmers Supply stores in Burlington and Stanwood, Wash. “It’s a great way to increase traffic to the store and the stand,” says Burlington store manager Allene Stuller.
Waltner and Shane raise an assortment of organic crops on their farm in Skagit Valley, including strawberries, cucumbers, green beans, pumpkins, barley and broccoli. They also grow a variety of conventional crops, including blueberries, a Washington staple.
The brother-and-sister-duo sources organic and conventional fertilizer from Skagit Farmers Supply and the co-op provides custom application services to keep their berries and vegetables healthy.
Waltner was elected to the Skagit Farmers Supply five-person board of directors in 2017. She leads a busy life, raising two teenage children, co-managing the family farm, and growing potatoes and grass seed for a separate business with Shane and her husband, Brian. But she says her role on the Skagit board is just as important.
“Farming has been part of our family for three generations,” she says. “We need to stay involved if we want farming and our community to continue thriving.”