Ken Anderson is a third generation Stevens County resident and has been in real estate since 2004. After graduating from Kettle Falls High School, Ken attended Spokane Community College taking ag-management. He managed a local feed and farm supply business for seven years before returning to his family’s ranch, where he has worked since. Sue Anderson moved from California in 1969 and has enjoyed living in this area ever since. She graduated from Columbia River Christian Academy and continued working with her folks on their cattle ranch before marrying Ken is 1979. Ken and his wife Sue have six children and are active members in their local church. They enjoy gardening and the fresh produce that they grow for the local farmers markets.
From farmer to friend
The Statesman-Examiner – June 25, 2003
By Jamie Hockley
In a bustling marketplace, a farmer hands a box of fresh, fragrant corn across a small countertop into the welcome arms of a customer. Money changes hands; smiles and conversation are exchanged.
At first glance, this simple transaction does not seem to be much different than business done at the supermarket, but farmers Ken and Sue Anderson say interacting with their customers is one of the reasons they farm.
“By selling our crops at a Farmer’s Market, we get to meet our customers and participate in their lives by talking with them about what is going on and by having fun with them,” Sue Anderson explained. “In a Farmer’s Market type situation, we have the freedom to do that.”
The Anderson sell their fruits and vegetables both at the Colville Farmers Market every Wednesday and at the Northeast Washington Farmers Market every Saturday. Both markets are located in Colville.
The Andersons bring raspberries, corn, peaches, melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, onions, zucchini, squash, basil, and pumpkins from their home near Kettle Falls to the market that features many area growers.
The Anderson produce that is available varies throughout the summer season, with many of their crops planted in a ripening sequence to get the most out of the growing season.
“We try to plan the best we can around the weather and since we have been doing this for quite a few years, we have a lot of things figured out and try to make some deadlines for ourselves,” Ken Anderson related. “Like we try to get our melons to market by the Fourth of July.”
With seven years of experience at the Farmer’s Markets, the Andersons say they have also learned how to make the most of the 20 acres they use to grow their produce.
“We have planted our garden with very little dirt in-between the rows,” Sue said with a smile.
The Andersons have also increased their efficiency and product quality by employing two interesting tools, including drip-line watering and Remay tarping.
“We water our crops by a system called drip line watering,” Ken explained. “The drip line tubing has to be imported from Israel and we get it from a dealer in Yakima.”
Drip line watering consists of flat plastic tubing with a specialized grid that, when laid next to a row of crops, efficiently waters the plants by “dripping” an allotted amount of water on each plant.
As opposed to overhead watering, where water is distributed over a large area, drip line watering provides moisture only to the intended crop.
The Andersons also use Remay tarping to create convenient “greenhouses” for their growing crops.
The Remay tarping is a gauze-like material that when tented over young crops, helps encourage growth by keeping warmth and moisture around the plant.
Another key to the Anderson’s success is that all the labor done on the farm is done by themselves and their six children.
“It’s a lot of work and we keep pretty busy,” Sue admitted. “But it keeps us from having to hire anyone.”
With farming being the Anderson family’s primary source of income, Sue said it was important that everyone help out in the year-round farming cycle.
“Our season starts in January and February when we start pruning our fruit trees and then begin planting our crops,” she explained. “We are usually done with markets and with growing by October 30 and then the winter months are used to clean up the garden area.”
“We also do a lot of house cleaning in December,” she said, smiling.
Although the Andersons seem to have made an efficient cycle of farming for the past few years, farming is really a relatively new venture for the couple, who used to be involved with the beef industry.
“We decided to get into farming nine years ago when the price of cattle dropped from one dollar a pound down to 50 cents a pound,” Ken shared. “Until that time, we had been raising cattle with my dad.”
In addition to being former cattlemen, the Andersons were also employees of the Flour Mill hardware stores at one time.
Ken Anderson worked as the manager of the Colville Flour Mill feed and hardware store from 1977 to 1984. Sue worked at the Colville store in 1978, a year before the couple married.
Along with saying they both enjoyed their time working in a retail environment, they also have some humorous stories to go along with their work experience.
Engagement rings and a load of feed
Ken said that while he and Sue were dating and working at the Flour Mill, they asked for a day off to go to Spokane to get an engagement ring. Flour Mill Owner Steve Furhman granted the pair the time off, but he did have one request.
“He asked if we were going to go in, to bring back a load of feed,” Sue laughed. “He was always trying to think of a way to get feed back from Spokane.”
The Andersons obliged the request and were pleasantly surprised to find that the company truck had been both washed and cleaned out for their trip.
“We ended up stopping at three or four different places for feed,” Sue remembered.
Although Ken said his position with the Flour Mill was a good job, the couple said they decided to get more involved with agriculture because of one basic reason: family.
“We really wanted to be home with our kids,” Sue said. “When Ken was working out, they never really saw him and we think that if we don’t spend time with them, then someone else does.”
The Anderson’s children (Mandy, K.R., Missy, Johnny, Cassie, and Ben) all help with the family farming venture when they are not attending school.
In addition to being able to spend more time with their children, the Andersons say they also like the freedom that they have with farming.
“We have the freedom to not have to go to an eight-hour a day job, which actually ends up being 10 hours a day for most people when you add in driving time,” Sue said. “We also don’t have to spend the extra money on gas, clothes, and food or do what is someone else’s love in life.”
“Also, at the Farmer’s Markets, we get to know people and really are able to participate in our community better,” Ken said.
As a full-time farmers, the Andersons also belong to the Stevens County Farm Bureau where Ken serves as the chairman of the Policy Development Committee and Sue serves as treasurer.
The Anderson produce can be found at the Northeast Washington Farmers Market at the corner of Astor and Main in Colville every Saturday from 8:30 to 1 p.m., or the Colville Farmers Market on the corner of Hawthorne and Elm Street in Colville every Wednesday from noon to 6 p.m.