Local Producer Profile – Karen Olson, Blackjack Valley Farm
Karen Olson of Blackjack Valley Farm in Port Orchard is nothing if not an energizer bunny. Over the last 6 1/2 years she has transformed her little patch of heaven in Port Orchard into the go-to place for farm-raised beef, pork, and poultry, on top of the constant flow of raw milk and high quality eggs she supplies. So it was no big surprise when Karen was named KCAA’s Farmer of the Year for 2015. Except to her. “I was surprised since I don’t participate in many community farming groups. It was nice to know people realized and acknowledged how hard I work.”
“She is extremely energetic and tough to keep up with,” says Doug Millard, KCAA board member. “Karen is deeply dedicated and concerned about her animals and her farming. She is all for local production of farm protein products and has the best farm store I have visited.”
Karen traces her love of agriculture to her childhood. “My father was in the Navy, having grown up in Philadelphia, and he was stationed at PSNS in 1967. He decided he wanted to raise my sister and me here, not in the city. So he bought some property and we learned about farming as a family.”
An indication of Karen’s support of local farming is her current effort to develop a USDA/Custom Exempt Slaughterhouse and Processing Facility here in Port Orchard. “I’m hoping to create a 3,600 sq. feet facility, located in Port Orchard, ” she explains. “We’re currently in permitting, and I have the deposit down on a steel building.” She plans to also offer transport services of livestock for those who cannot haul to site, and says the site will also have a retail front to market local meats and other seasonal products.
Karen says that two major roadblocks are financing and lack of local community (farmer) support. But she is applying for several USDA grants to get things rolling. And she sees herself completing the circle that her childhood began. “We have a lot of families in Kitsap County. Many that come for a short period of time with the military. I think it is great to provide those kids with farm fresh foods and visits to a farm.”
For more information on Karen’s efforts and to help fund this project please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/1njrug