A Woman and her Farmer
Ayako Gordon met Katsumi Taki at the University District Farmers Market in Seattle in 2008, both Japan natives who shared a love for conscientiously farmed produce and cooking that could also reflect their heritage. Steamed sunshine kabocha, chiso and vinegar pickled apricots, the distinctly sweet Japanese cucumbers sliced and ready for sampling - the produce that nourished this friendship was those of nostalgia, the childhood meals with family. In the summer of 2009, Ayako & Family emerged in the summer of 2009, since then partnering exclusively with Mair Farm-Taki in Yakima, Washington to introduce both heritage and heirloom plum varieties to our signature hexagonal jar of preserves.
"If I ever have a question about the produce, I always go to Taki San first. And when he gives me an answer, I just follow that. Because I never doubt what he does. I can just trust him one hundred percent and that's a beautiful thing." - Ayako Gordon, Founder
Mair Farm-Taki is a Japanese-owned and operated Certified Organic farm in Wapato, Washington in the Yakima region. Kastumi Taki acquired the 36-acre Mair farmstead in the 1970's, converting the property to an all organic farmstead. Century-old orchards, walnut trees, over a dozen varieties of wild, heritage and heirloom plums make the farm. As an ex-biologist and agriculturalist, Taki san is dedicated to growing both unique and memory rich produce, such as the Water Balloon Plum, named after its plumpness, and the Italian Plum, which grows in the backyards of Pacific Northwest City Dwellers. Each year, Taki introduces new plum varieties to the farm through cuttings of wild plums in his region grafted with those on the farm. We are honored to share these hybrid varieties through our Farm Exclusive collection.
From our ingredient sourcing to preserving processes, Ayako & Family continues to produce with the fruit as the core expression of each product. With each spoonful of jam there is recalled, like a memory, a certain time of year, the gentle care of each hand that picks the fruit. We preserve this story, the one of the farmer and his harvest, and in turn share with you so that if it should land on your own kitchen table, it may evoke the fondness of your own food making memories.
A decade later, Ayako & Family still produces by hand and in small batches over twenty varieties of hybrid and heritage plum jams, with the addition of Rhubarb, Apricot and Quince. And we return to the farmers market where the cook and the farmer met to form this indelible partnership. Through our farmers market stands, we hope to continue to share our own kind of tradition of Pacific Northwest Japanese farm-to-table food.