In verdant northwest Washington, down a rural road named “Utopia,” hundreds of cattle graze in a riverside pasture. Hogs happily snort around in the sod near a historic wooden barn, free-range chickens cluck and coo. Just beyond, a densely forested hillside rises to touch a cerulean blue sky. Welcome to Skagit River Ranch, a landmark organic farm owned and operated by Nicole Hoffman and her mother, Eiko Vojkovich.
“Running a business together with my mom is incredibly special…we have a strong bond that unites us.”
Together, the mother-daughter team runs Skagit River Ranch according to its founding principles: organic production, humane treatment of animals, and sustainability. Their organic meats, particularly the 100% grass-fed Wagyu beef, are highly sought after and sold to notable farm-to-table restaurants like Restaurant Marché on Bainbridge Island, retailers including Seattle’s premier organic grocer PCC, and local farmers’ markets including Ballard and the University District Seattle, as well direct to local families.
“I wholeheartedly believe in what we do and how we do it,” Nicole says. “Not many people get to say they are truly proud of what they do every day.”
Nicole was a toddler when her parents started Skagit River Ranch 25 years ago. They achieved organic certification from the USDA in 1998 and were, for a time, Washington’s only certified organic beef producer. Since then, the farm has received numerous awards from Skagit Conservation District for its soil, water, and environmental conservation.
Nicole enjoyed growing up on the farm and partaking in the bounty of healthy, organic meat and vegetables from the family garden but wasn’t initially interested in the family business. Instead, she studied political science at the University of Washington in Seattle, intending to work in the field of national security. By the end of her degree, Nicole felt differently.
“I didn’t like the city as much as I thought I did,” she says, “And being in college, you realize that not everyone eats the way you do—I was passionate about food much more than I thought I was.”
In 2019, when her father had to retire due to health reasons, Nicole stepped into his shoes as Operations Manager. Nicole’s mother continued in her role managing the business side of things. At 65 years old, Eiko says she loves the work and will keep doing it as long as she can. “I consider myself very blessed to be able to do this with my very own daughter,” she says.
This spring, Nicole and her husband sold their home in the nearby town of Sedro-Woolley and moved to a home on the farm about a mile from her parents’ place. She’s pregnant with the couple’s first child and can’t think of a better place to raise him than at Skagit River Ranch.