Tonnemaker Hill Farm

Kurt Tonnemaker comes from a long line of Washington farmers. George and Cora Tonnemaker came to Washington and planted an orchard on Knights’ Hill near Buena in Yakima Valley in 1903. Their son, Orland farmed, taught agriculture classes and worked as an agricultural extension agent throughout Central Washington. While helping to lay out farm units in the new Columbia Basin Irrigation Project he determined to purchase the land which is now Tonnemaker Hill Farm located on the north slope of the Frenchman Hills northeast of Royal City, Washington, Orland and his wife Pearl purchased the land in 1962. Their son, Gene, spent much of his free time helping in the early years. Gene and his wife Joyce had two sons, Kole and Kurt, who spent much of their spring and summer vacation time working the farm also. Today, Tonnemaker Hill Farm is operated by Kole Tonnemaker and his son, Luke and Luke’s wife Amanda. Son Ethan, also helps out on the farm during spring and summer vacation from teaching agriculture at the local community college. Their direct sales are at farmer’s markets in Eastern Washington and Idaho. Farmers can become their own middlemen. That is exactly what Kurt agreed to do in the early spring of 1992. Kole would handle the production and Kurt the marketing of crops from Tonnemaker Hill Farm. The new plantings were coming into bearing and someone needed to take up the challenge of direct marketing the new corps. Kurt Tonnemaker and his wife, Michele operate Tonnemaker’s, the direct-sale arm of the farm. Their sons, Joseph and Clayton, help, selling at Farmer Markets and to Restaurants in Western, Washington. Kurt opened his first Fruit Stand in Clearview, Washington in the summer of 1992 with help from his father Gene and mother Joyce. That Fruit Stand went through many different looks over the next few years from a roadside stand to a building. The Fruit Stand was eventually sidelined when efforts ramped up to direct market at Farmer Markets in Pierce County, King Count, and Snohomish County. He was sending crews to 18 Farmer Markets a week for one crazy Summer. Eventually settling on 5 markets solely in King County. The focus has changed in recent years with the addition of Tonnemaker Valley Farm outside Woodinville in the Sammamish Valley. The Farm approximately 16 acres is now certified organic with crops being grown on 7 acres with plans to reclaim more from the grips of Canary Reed grass and high Winter water table. Currently the Tonnemaker Valley Farm (TVF) grows several varieties of herbs, leafy salad mix, squash, onions, garlic, brassicas, and root vegetables. There is also a large selection of u-pick flowers. The idea of getting people out to the TVF to see where their food is coming from has played a huge part in planning for the future of the Woodinville Farm. Creating green space and habitat for animals and humans to enjoy together, close to the Seattle Metropolitan areas, is top of the list.