LYNNWOOD, Wash., December 13, 2022—Rachel Vaughn of Vaughn’s Teaching Farm and Kitchen, begins each day at 8 a.m. making a mash of beet pulp, molasses, and hot water for her goat’s breakfast. The goats are old and “creak when they walk,” Vaughn said, but the children still love them at the petting zoo. Vaughn then continues feeding her other animals which include rabbits, a duck, and several chickens. Depending on the state of her animals determines how the rest of her day is going to go and, of course, if the Seahawks are playing that day.
If all her animals are well, Vaughn sits down with a cup of coffee and begins writing her to-do list. She then conducts a safety assessment of her farm’s small walking trail which acts as a spooky, jump scare-free trail during the fall and a magical, enchanted, forest walk illuminated by hundreds of lights and candy canes in the winter.
“One of my favorite things about being a farmer, and a small business owner, is every day’s different,” Vaughn said.
If the day falls on December 10 or 11 Rachel, and her husband Eric, then start a bon fire, make hot chocolate and freshly fried donuts, to prepare for the crowds arriving for their annual Christmas on the Farm event.
For the last two years Vaughns Teaching Farm and Kitchen has become a must-go holiday favorite for Lynnwood residents offering cocoa and treats, impressive light displays, yard games, and even photo opportunities with Santa. This year they nearly doubled their lights from last, added more interactive games – including “nut putt”, where visitors can attempt to golf a nut into a bucket for a chance to win fresh donuts – a barrel train, and even a mini market.
The mini mart sells everything from farm fresh eggs to goat lotion; to local honey; to stuffed animals; to more. While some of the items found at the mini mart come directly from Vaughn’s Farm, such as the farm fresh eggs, other products are made elsewhere such as the goat lotion and soaps from veteran-owned Bates Family Farm in Virginia. The Vaughns try to focus on veteran-owned businesses as much as they can when selling products from other small, family-owned farms like Bates.
In addition to opening their farm to visitors for a fun unique holiday spectacle, Vaughn’s Farm holds a Christmas fundraiser each year, collecting food for the Lynnwood Food Bank. At last year’s gathering, the farm collected over 200 pounds of food and a few hundred dollars in cash.
The Vaughn family’s idea for their Christmas fundraiser came to them during the lockdowns. After dropping off food to the Lynnwood Food Bank, they noticed a line of luxury cars lining up.
“That’s not to say we were judging them, but it showed us that no matter where you are economically, there are people hurting. There are people losing their jobs. We said, we got to do something,” Eric Vaughn told the Lynnwood Times.
Rachel built a blessing barn at the top of their hill where people can put food, books, and other donations that anyone in the community is welcome to. Whenever the donations get low, they make an announcement on their Facebook page and watch the donations pile up again.
“Occasionally we’ll see little kids drop their bikes off and get some snacks, but we don’t know if they’re eating either. That’s the tricky part – you never know where people are economically. They may have a big house and nice cars, but they could be starving for food,” Eric told the Lynnwood Times.
Although Rachel Vaughn and her husband Eric have lived at 2503 191st Pl SW for over 30 years, they founded Vaughn’s Teaching Farm and Kitchen in early 2021. The two grew up in rural settings, raising horses and participating in 4H events. When they realized their children were missing out on what they believe is an integral element of their upbringing, growing up in a city next to a mall, they decided to make use of their land and raise chickens – and eventually goats, pigs, and turkeys – to teach their children where their food comes from.
“I have a food background, so I love teaching about food. But now I have a newfound love for farming. I’ve combined the two because they’re intertwined,” Rachel said.
Since then, the Vaughn family has grown their operation to six goats, a duck, 60 chickens, two rabbits, and a whole bunch of worms. While the goats are used for dairy and education, the chickens, rabbits, and duck are raised for meat.
“Our passion and priority is helping people understand where their food comes from. When you have those hands-on experiences, it connects you to your food,” Rachel said.
Their next big step is bringing a commercial kitchen on site, hopefully opening next year although it may begin as a food truck, Rachel said. The kitchen will act as both a restaurant and a classroom, offering a wide variety of cultural dishes, from Ethiopian to Indian, that best represent the diversity found in Lynnwood.
“It’s really fun to learn about different cultures and how food connects us,” Rachel told the Lynnwood Times.
In addition to classes and a fully operational, sit-down restaurant, the kitchen will also offer pre-made soups and breads that people in the neighborhood can stop by and pickup to go.
When arriving at Vaughn’s Farm, you may at first guess you’ve inputted an incorrect address. It almost seems unreasonable that a three-acre farm could exist tucked behind department stores, just right down the road from Lynnwood’s bustling Alderwood area. But that’s exactly where Vaughn’s resides – on an agricultural sanctuary in the heart of the city of Lynnwood.
At the end of the day, when all the crowds disperse, the Vaughns tear down their displays, pour a glass of wine and make themselves some food. At the dinner table they consult their “idea board” and discuss what went well, what didn’t, and how to improve their business for next time.
“We’re constantly thinking ahead,” Eric Vaughn told the Lynnwood Times. “As you grow a business the first couple of years you don’t really know what worked and what didn’t work. Expansion, for us, is huge.”
Vaughn’s Farm is also open in the Fall offering a “you-pick” pumpkin patch, spooky woods walk with no jump scares, corn maze, lady big barrel train and ladybug release, and lots of hands-on activities for kids like pounding pumpkins with wooden mallets.
“It’s really all the highlights you would get from a big pumpkin patch, just on a small, urban farm,” Rachel Vaughn told the Lynnwood Times.