S & B Farms
Gus Burkland, of Swedish ancestry, pioneered his family in the community of Cedardale. He had made enough money during the Alaska Gold Rush in the late 1890’s to build a new farm home. This home stands today within a mile of Skagit Valley’s Best Produce, Inc. His grandson, Richard Smith, began his agricultural career on a full-time basis after completion of college at Washington State University with a degree in Horticulture. He was employed as a field man for a local frozen foods company and in 1958 began farming as his sole career. His brother, Robert Burkland, joined in the farming in the late 1960’s, thus beginning Smith and Burkland Farms.
Richard continues the farming partnership with his son, Brad Smith, the fourth generation involved in the farm. The Smiths now raise around 1,500 acres of crops, which include wheat and spinach seed, in rotation with the potato acreage. In 1998 the Smiths established a partnership with Morrison Farms to construct a packing facility and sell potatoes through Skagit Valley’s Best Produce. In 2001 they restructured and formed their new company, S & B Farms Inc. Brads wife Jennifer handles all of the office duties at the farm and helps with marketing efforts at Skagit Valley’s Best. The 5th generation of Smiths on the farm consists of Brad’s nephew Carl who has chosen to make farming his career.
Morrison Farms all began in 1889 with the arrival of Mauritz Johnson from Sweden. He later Americanized his name to John Morrison and homesteaded in the community of “Cedardale” in the Skagit Valley.
Clearing the homestead with dynamite and four footed horse power, farming in the Morrison family had begun in America. John’s son, Roger, grew crops and raised dairy cattle until the 1970’s when he retired. His son, Don, became the managing partner. Roger’s wife Olga was very active in the farming operation serving as the bookkeeper and feeding many threshing crews over the years. She retired from her duties at the age of 81 when the fourth generation of Morrison wives assumed those duties. Keith and Darrin Morrison now continue the farming tradition on a full-time basis. Their father, Don Morrison, is currently retired, but was a major participant in the enterprise in earlier years.
Diversity in raising crops is a key element. Through the years the Morrison family raised peas, wheat, cucumbers, and seed crops. With the pea market declining, they began raising potatoes in 1989 with 150 acres. To date, they raise over 450 acres of potatoes annually. Each year there are new challenges but through continuing education on topics relevant to the crops raised, the Morrisons improve their farming practices for the generations to follow.
In 1998, Morrison Farms broke ground in a joint venture with Smith and Burkland Farms, creating the “Smith and Morrison Farms” packing facility. Proudly selling under the labels of “Skagit Valley’s Best” and “Skagit Harvest Value”, their products are marketed by Skagit Valley’s Best Produce, Inc. and are shipped throughout the United States and Canada.