Farm. Food. School.
Lora Lea and Rick Misterly
Farm. Food. School.
"Food is sacred. We are just trying to help people become more humane through the simple things we do everyday."
Lora Lea and Rick Misterly each had experience farming since they were very young. Living in smaller communities was always something both of them strived for. “My dream was to be as self sufficient as possible to grow as much food as I could.” Rick explained. When he met Lora Lea at a small town cottage cafe in Washington state, he knew he was one step closer to achieving the life he always wanted.
Lora Lea also had a farm related dream but it was more rooted in her mother’s own hobby. “My parents had a small dairy farm where my mom made cow cheese out of the surplus milk that we had in the summer. I learned the love of the flavor of farm made cheese, especially fresh cottage cheese. It wasn't something you could buy in the marketplace." Keeping with tradition and her love of cheese, Lora Lea found a way to incorporate that into her own farm and way of life. “When Rick and I moved here, we bought goats. We didn't have any refrigeration so automatically the milk wants to turn to cheese. We learned how to control that so we could have cheese from our goats and age it for us to eat."
“We kind of took a hobby or a passion and turned it into a bigger passion; a life consuming passion where we were consumed with milking goats and making cheese and have that be the focus of our life." Lora Lea recounted.
However, after a while, Rick and Lora Lea realized they would need to find a way to live off their land and make a living at the same time. "Both of us thought we'd have a sustainable farm and we could just live off of love and the love of growing things. We quickly learned that wasn't going to be the case." Explained Lora Lea. "I was making cheese for us and saw that it might be a product we could make to actually make a living off of our land."
Soon after that spark of imagination, Quillisascut Farm became a destination for many. “It all just kind of built upon itself. As more people began visiting the farm, we expanded the garden so we could grow more to feed more people but never really with the intention of having a market.” Rick paused before continuing, “It was always about feeding ourselves and feeding the people that were coming here."
After a few years of entertaining different people, including chefs from around the world, Rick and Lora Lea decided to start a farm school. “The farm school really grew out of that idea of trying to create and bring more people into the farm, educate people about the farm and then spread the word about farming." People that ended up coming to the farm to learn as much as they could included young culinary school students, world-renowned chefs, and even the general public to adapt better food practices and understand what it takes to properly run a sustainably managed farm.
"The amazing thing is they walk away feeling transformed and feel like they're a part of something larger than just, you know, your everyday transactions with other people." Lora Lea explained, feeling proud of how Rick and herself have helped young chefs along their food journey.
A quick smile burst upon Lora Lea and she said, “I guess we're all about growing things here. Growing our own life and then helping other people learn where their food comes from and helping grow their passion and love for farm raised food, local food, and the whole entire food movement that's happening today."
We asked them to leave us with one piece of wisdom that they’ve learned through their many years running a farm. They stopped and looked at each other before saying, "Food is sacred. It's a sacramental medium that we use to share our culture. We are just trying to help people become more humane through the simple things we do everyday."