Business Comings, Falling River Meats: Good for the Farming Community, Good for the Local Economy

When Christeena and Darron Marzolf were looking for a new retail storefront location, they knew they wanted to stay in the Snoqualmie Valley.

Says Christeena, “We love North Bend! I graduated from Mt Si High, so when we were looking for a better location to open our retail meat shop, we knew we wanted to stay in Snoqualmie valley; we were so lucky to find the perfect location on North Bend Way.”

According to North Bend’s PIO Danna McCall, the new store will be a great example of the type of businesses the City’s Community and Economic Development Department and volunteer Economic Development Commission have been working to attract to the revitalized downtown area to serve the needs of North Bend residents.

They started raising pigs in 2014. After joining SnoValley Tilth,  who brings together farmers and the community to build a thriving food system, they became more connected to the local farming community.

Now the Marzolf’s have several businesses that all involve meat. The new retail store, a custom slaughter and processing business in Snohomish and a line of Pet food and treats called Porter’s Pride offered at boutique pet stores, farmers markets and specialty grocery stores in the Puget Sound.

The family-owned Falling River Meats has operated using a farm-to-door online model and this spring will relocate to downtown North Bend. Marzolf said she and her husband – a 4th generation butcher – are excited about the move.

Darron’s family has been working with local farmers for generations, helping them process their WSDA custom meats and now they are working with local farmers to source their retail meats, which need to be USDA slaughtered. 

Says Christeena, “If we want to help our farmers and keep a resilient farming community, we need to buy their products which is a larger reason why we try to sell locally exclusively. Unfortunately for livestock farmers, King County does not have a USDA slaughter site, so it’s difficult to get local meats processed and sold on the market.  Our business is poised to bridge that gap in consumer access once we have our USDA slaughter facility up and running. We have been working on increasing meat production in King County since 2016 in partnership with King County Agriculture and King Conservation District with a grant to bring USDA slaughter to King County Farmers.”

The Marzolf’s still raise pigs and a small number of chickens and turkeys each year. They do not have time or space to raise all species, and there are so many farmers doing an amazing job that it makes sense for them to buy directly from the farmers and help grow their operation. Once they have their USDA slaughter site set up, they will be able to do that more consistently and at greater volumes. 

Right now, they source pigs from a grower in Whatcom County, Bittersweet Family Farm, and Beef locally from Woodward Farms, Paradise Cattle Co and Carmen Ranch out of Oregon. Organic certification is a price barrier for small farms, so they promote Animal Welfare Approved certification but do not require it at this time.

Construction is currently underway to turn the former ProSki retail space on North Bend Way into a retail butcher shop /deli.  The building is owned by North Bend native Craig Glazier of Carbonite Properties.

Craig explains, “After 2 years of searching for a long-term, sustainable local small business for the former ProSki location, I was absolutely thrilled to come across the Marzolf family and learn about their Falling River Meats business and their plans to open a butcher shop in historic downtown North Bend. Christeena and Darron are genuine, hard-working people and I’m sure the local community will pack their store as soon as they’re open.”

When asked if the new store would be looking for employees, Christeena remarked that they are always looking for people interested in small-scale artisan meat processing. They have a two-year training program where their butchers learn every aspect of on-farm slaughter, and eventually USDA slaughter, custom meat cutting, smoking, curing and retail cuts. They currently have five employees, all of whom hope to start their own meat shops or slaughter operations one day. They hope to lead the way with a liveable wage and reasonable workloads. Darron has watched too many good; hard-working people end up with nothing because the industry hasn’t had a raise in 50 years.

Falling River Meats will offer both fresh and frozen meats, along with select seafood. All meat and seafood will come from local, sustainable and humanely raised/caught sources.  There will also be prepared foods, cured meats, charcuterie boards, raw pet food and treats and other locally grown or made products. And for residents who feel like learning, there will also be classes and tastings. Welcome to North Bend! Falling River Meats is anticipated to open in late May or early June.

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