March 15, 1999
Twenty-five years ago, The Herbfarm in Fall City began as an old wheelbarrow on a roadside filled with some potted herbs and a Mason jar with coins for people to make their own change.
Owner Lola Zimmerman's idea to sell her homegrown herbs grew into a regional institution which boasts the largest array of herb plants and herbal products in the Northwest and a nationally-acclaimed restaurant.
Two years ago, a terrible fire destroyed the restaurant. The Zimmermans plan to rebuild, but meanwhile, the rest of the farm has remained open.
In celebration of its silver anniversary, The Herbfarm has planned a number of events throughout this year. To kick off the festivities, it is releasing selected Pacific Northwest wines from its award-winning wine cellar. Many of the wines are rare, hard-to-find specialties no longer available anywhere else.
On March 20 and 21, The Herbfarm will have its Spring Open House. Visitors can attend free educational lectures on gardening and herb usage, sample herbal products, and participate in various workshops (for a nominal fee), including herbal egg dyeing, planting herb gardens, and getting one's garden ready for spring. In addition, each customer can take a chance at scooping through silver doubloons to find the winning coin for a variety of prizes.
Third in the yearlong series of Silver Celebrations takes place at the end of National Herb Week on Mother's Day weekend with a focus on silver herbs (lavenders, sage, artemisias, silver thyme, etc.). Free herbs are given to every mother and a variety of hands-on workshops will be held. Moms can also take advantage of the opportunity to be pampered at The Herbfarm's Pamper Palace, which will have massage and aromatherapy services available.
The Herbfarm has spent the past two years working hard to raise funds for the necessary building permits to rebuild the new Herbfarm Restaurant and Inn at The Herbfarm.
"We are still waiting for those permits," says Herbfarm spokesperson Carrie Van Dyck. "It has been a slow process, but we hope they will be here soon. Once the permits come, it will take from nine to twelve months to build. Each day, we field calls from people who want to know when the restaurant will be open. We have to tell them that we just don't know yet, but it will definitely happen."
The Herbfarm's new restaurant will be a larger facility than before with room to seat fifty people, as opposed to thirty-two. There will also be an inn to accommodate up to ten overnight guests.
"So many of our customers, over the years, have asked us to provide some sort of overnight accommodation," explains Van Dyck. "They come to eat this wonderful meal that takes a number of hours to experience and they don't want to drive home afterwards. It seems like a natural adjunct to the meal."
In the interim, The Herbfarm will again be hosting its famous nine-course dinners at Hedges Cellars in Issaquah. Tom and Ann-Marie Hedges, owners of Hedges Cellars, are making their barrel-aging room available to The Herbfarm to use as a restaurant while rebuilding takes place at the farm in Fall City.
The wine room, which can seat forty to fifty people, has an open kitchen so guests can still observe the culinary action while they dine. Seasonal, thematic menus, which change often, will showcase the best foods of the Pacific Northwest, along with an accompaniment of well-matched wines.
Set to open at the beginning of June, the restaurant will serve just one seating per day. Reservations are necessary. For information about upcoming programs at The Herbfarm or to make future dinner reservations, call 425-222-7103.