As the weather cools and colorful leaves fall to the ground, cooking turns to comfort and abundance as families, and the cooks who feed them, turn their thoughts to creating meals for holiday gatherings.
One Bainbridge Island family, the Nakatas, has been instrumental in growing and providing quality food for decades. Soon, they and their family-owned stores, Town & Country Markets, will celebrate 100 years of ownership of MiddleField Farm. The Nakata name means “Middle Field” in Japanese.
Established in 1924 at the corner of Lovgreen and Highway 305, MiddleField Farm embodies the legacy of local, sustainable agriculture and inspires the next generation of future farmers.
MiddleField was purchased by two Japanese immigrant brothers, John and Mo Nakata, and their friend Ed Loverich, who later founded Town & Country Markets on the island in 1957.
“Our family bought the farm, at the time a strawberry farm, 25 years after emigrating from Japan, tending the soil, planting and picking berries, and raising their children,” said Susan Allen, T&C senior director of brand development.
After the land stood fallow for decades, Don Nakata gathered the family to discuss its future. He wrote a family mission that it would offer a sense of belonging, the pride of association, the comfort of connectedness, and the power of idealistic purpose. Those align with the family’s values, which are embedded in T&C Market’s vision.
Since 2005, organic farmer Brian MacWhorter has managed MiddleField Farm and cultivates organic fruits, vegetables and flowers for T&C. He also teaches up to four interns annually, March through October, passing along his farming experience and sustainability techniques.
MacWhorter and his team supply T&C with fresh daily produce, including: zucchini, squash, heirloom tomatoes, sunflowers, green beans, radishes, lettuce, beets, and assorted winter squash.
“It’s a unique, one-of-a-kind thing T&C is doing for their consumers. They’re growing it on their family farm, allowing people to take home the best quality and healthiest food. That’s why I partnered with this company—because they have that integrity,” MacWhorter said.