September is Eat Local Month and it’s time to celebrate the local farmers and food artisans who help supply us with the best of the region’s bounty.
Farms across Whatcom County are opening their doors to the public and inviting visitors to see what they have to offer during the sixth annual Whatcom County Farm Tour, sponsored by Sustainable Connections.
This free, self-guided tour highlights a number of diverse family-owned farms and businesses and provides educational activities at each of the 12 tour stops. Tour goers can mingle with local farmers and learn about growing food, raising animals,
making wine and growing flowers.
Attendees can also enjoy train rides, tastings and samplings, compost demos, spinning and weaving demonstrations, winery tours and more.
“We’ve done this for several years,” said Dakota Creek Winery owner Ken Peck. “As an agricultural producer it fits what we’re doing, and we like to show how we are incorporating sustainability in our business.”
Peck said they will be demonstrating the winemaking process and the ways that they can produce wine in a sustainable fashion. Their cellar is a metal arch building, covered with native soil and bark. Because it is bermed and covered, it acts much like a basement or traditional wine cellar and stays a consistent 50-65 degrees without any heating or air-conditioning. “It works really well in our climate,” Peck said. “We’re not using any heat or electricity except to power five light bulbs. It’s just one of the ways we’re offsetting our carbon footprint.”
Dakota Creek Winery will also be hosting Evolve Truffles at their event and offering wine and chocolate tastings. “It’s always a good fit, their truffles and our red wine,” Peck said.
Evolve Truffles has developed more than 20 flavors of chocolate truffles and is owned by Blaine residents Shannon and Christy Fox. “We’re constantly creating new flavors,” Shannon said. “And we source everything locally.”
Visitors are encouraged to bring cash for farm products and a cooler to keep purchased foods fresh throughout the day. Tour goers can also bike to the farms, but are asked to keep dogs at home.
This year, attendees have the opportunity to become a Farm Tour VIP. With a minimum $25 charitable contribution, you will receive a Farm Tour VIP bag, filled with coupons and freebies available from each of the farm stops, a Sustainable Connections “Where the Locals Go” coupon book and more. VIP Farm Tour passes can be purchased online at eatlocalfirst.org or on the day of the farm tour at one of the stops.
VIP passes entitle you to 15 percent off an item or your entire purchase of Back In Thyme products, 10 percent off a bottle of wine at Dakota Creek Winery, a free bag of BelleWood Acres’ apple cider donuts, a free bar of handmade natural soap from Farmer Ben’s, a 10 percent discount for the remainder of the season at Bellingham Country Gardens and 15 percent off a bottle of wine at Vartanyan Estates Winery. Most coupons are only good for the day of the tour.
The following farms, wineries and farmers markets are featured this year as part of the farm tour:
Cascadia Mushrooms: Organically grown gourmet and medicinal mushrooms, learn what kinds they grow and how.
Loganita Farm: Vegetables, berries, edible flowers and herbs.
Camelot Alpaca Ranch: Come meet the alpacas and the new summer babies, demonstrations on spinning and weaving fibers, too!
Back In Thyme: Herbs, soaps, salves, potpourri and plenty of unique home sewn gifts.
Dakota Creek Winery: Award-winning sustainable wine; tour their winery and beautiful cellar. Evolve Truffles will be here as well.
BelleWood Acres: Apples, cider, distillery, train rides and more.
Farmer Ben’s: Up close and personal tours with pastured pigs, grass-fed and show cattle, horses and laying hens.
Cloud Mountain Farm Center: A nursery, workshop and living laboratory. Come see how they grow fruits, veggies, ornamentals and trials.
Pure Peonies: Grows chemical-free peonies with sustainable farming practices. More than 10,000 peonies available for potted, fresh cuts or tubers.
Bellingham Farmers Market: A meeting place for our farmers, locals and entrepreneurs. Fresh produce, food and crafts.
Bellingham Country Gardens: Family-owned and operated flowers, veggies and strawberries.
Vartanyan Estate Winery: A small, women-owned and operated winery, produces some of the finest limited edition wines.
The farm tour will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 14. Entry to the farms is free of charge. For more information, visit eatlocalfirst.org
or call 360/647-7093, ext. 114.