When the Gariss family moved to the Farm in 1971, they took over the egg farm which had been supplying the Olympic Peninsula with fresh eggs since the 1940s. By 1975 there were 3,000 chickens, 15 sheep, and one family thriving on the land.
As the allure of chicken farming waned, the Farm transitioned into a primary home garden of The Abundant Life Seed Foundation. Created by Forest Shomer, Abundant Life Seeds was the first exclusively bioregional seed source, focusing on heirloom vegetables, herbs, flowers and native plant seeds with a Pacific Northwest heritage. Along with their mail order catalog, their seeds were distributed via seed racks, primarily in Food Co-ops, in about 180 outlets in 25 states. In 2003, after a devastating fire destroyed their main offices in the Aldrich’s Grocery store building, Abundant Life sold their seeds, mailing list and all to the Territorial Seed Company.
By 2008, Peter Gariss took over the running of his family’s farm. Inspired by his lifelong love of growing plants, the verdant soils and the farm’s horticultural history, he began making the gardens his own. He began by growing vegetables (enough to feed most everyone he knew) and tossed in a few dahlia tubers, just to see what would happen. Magic. That’s what happened. The few grew to tens, twenties and fifties. Peonies, delphinium, a host of annual flowers, decorative shrubs, greens, and fruit trees joined the garden beds. The plots expanded. The soils grew richer. Experience was gained.
As his retirement from the world of home building grew closer, Peter examined what he really wanted
to do with the rest of his life. Flower Farming was his final answer. Adding to his many years as a successful vegetable grower and land steward, he continued his education in the art of flower farming at Floret, graduating in 2019. Gariss Gardens was born.
Today, with ever expanding garden beds, seasonal extensions, and a host of varieties of flowers and decorative shrubs, Gariss Gardens supplies affordable blooms the to the greater Port Townsend and Jefferson County areas through their Farm Stand and CSA programs.
Peter’s family transplanted themselves to Port Townsend in 1971 and many of his formative years were spent on the land now known as Gariss Gardens. His professional life as a home builder in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska gave him the unique ability to withstand the rigors of working outside no matter the weather, an essential flower farmer’s skill (and one that they don’t teach you in school).
Peter is the brains, brawn, planner, designer, field hand, machine fixer, wheelbarrow totter, irrigator, harvester and jack-of-all-trades behind the gardens. It’s his creativity, heart and hard work that make Gariss Gardens a reality
Candice's love for plants can be tracked back to childhood and her Mother's spectacular gardens. A fascination with growing set its seeds and she has been an avid gardener for nearly 50 years. A friend introduced Peter when he was recommended to do some carpentry work for her. As their building projects grew in complexity so did their friendship and their mutual love for growing became a strong bond.
Candice's special abilities in coordinating, managing, planning and floral design show their rewards at the Gardens. As time allows she also helps with many of the farm tasks like weeding, planting and harvesting. Candice is a Master Gardener and she tends a large garden at her Chimacum home.