For over a century, members of Campbell’s family have embraced sustainable and organic farming practices as stewards of the historic Kristoferson Farm, located a little more than an hour north of Seattle. Campbell didn’t envision spending her life managing the farm and its land, but moving to New York City to pursue a finance career following her graduation from Hamilton helped her unearth something about herself that set the stage for the possibility.
“It didn't sink in until I lived in New York, which I loved, that I realized I really missed the green spaces,” she says. “That's what really developed my interest in landscape architecture. I realized it's so important to design [those spaces] into the world.”
Campbell earned a master’s in landscape architecture from Harvard before eventually returning to Washington State. As life shifted course and her mother grew older, Campbell and her siblings found themselves managing the farm. Collectively, they started considering ways to help others experience the place. Following her own zipline excursion in Canada, Campbell thought something both fun and educational could be a beneficial addition to the farm. After a few years of research, building, and implementation, they launched Canopy Tours Northwest, a zipline tour.
Campbell, who now serves as the director of marketing for the business, loves sharing her passion for the outdoors with as many people as possible. Because the zipline tour is low-impact -- guests only need to be able to walk upstairs and walk on a path – the farm has become an accessible place to help people cross off a bucket list item and celebrate big moments, and a place that now means something to so many.
“One of the neatest things has been seeing these multi-generational families all zipping together, doing something new and different. It’s a beautiful thing to see happen,” she says, noting that she believes the oldest zipliner they’ve welcomed is 97-years-young. “We've also had proposals and weddings, people who are doing this with loved ones before they pass on, and people who have come back after a loved one has died because they want to do it again in their honor. I didn't anticipate that at all when we opened the business. Being a part of something that pushes people a little outside their boundaries and makes them feel empowered and have a new sense of self after is a wonderful experience for us.”
Canopy Tours was just the start of the family’s efforts to have a sustainable business operating on the farm and make it more of a destination. They then developed Terra Teams, a team-building program, and now welcome thousands of visitors a year for ziplining, team outings, lavender workshops, farm-to-table dinners, special events, wreath-making workshops, and more. As their business has grown, so has its impact on the island town they love. In addition to those it employs, the farm’s expansion has benefited restaurants and other retail businesses.
While the farm has grown as a business, Campbell says she and her siblings have made great use of a “treasure trove” of helpful local experts, resources, and courses to learn how to best manage what they inherited. They developed a 90-year rotation for their forest, and the zipline tour includes informational along the way to help guests understand where they are in the forest and what’s happening.
“We’ve learned so much ourselves, even after coming here our whole lives. Until you look at it through new eyes and learn a few of these things, it doesn't even occur to you. It’s fun to be able to share some of that with our guests.”
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Campbell and her family work to preserve the farm and its abundant wildlife in everything they do, and they are actively pursuing a conservation easement through a local land trust to ensure that remains the case in perpetuity.
“You never know if future generations are going to have the bandwidth to opportunity to keep it all going,” she says. “We certainly are trying to make the farm a more self-sustaining enterprise, but it still needs stewardship. We’re excited to make sure that it’s used in many of the same ways going forward.”