Small local farms grow delivery business during stay-at-home order

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Jonny Lane is the co-owner of Dandelion Organic Delivery, a Bellingham-based business that delivers weekly boxes of farm fresh food to homes in western Whatcom County. Lane said he’s seen demand at the company, which he and his wife, Maria Stavrakas, started in 2007, jump from around 300 customers per week to 700 customers per week from March to May.

The company delivers a choice of six customizable bins weekly costing between $32 to $40. Their deliveries prioritize produce from local farms, but they substitute organic produce from outside the region when the local produce is limited during winter and spring. Current produce includes black plums, Swiss chard and radishes. 

To accommodate customer demand, Lane and his wife now pack farm fresh boxes three days a week, rather than one. 

“We’ve been packing more days, delivering more days, we’ve bought more delivery vans, hired more people,” Lane said. “There’s a lot that’s gone into it.” 

The company, which started serving Blaine a couple of years ago, is now delivering to about 100 customers in the Blaine area. The company does no-contact household deliveries in Ferndale, Blaine and Birch Bay every Wednesday morning. 

Doug Cross helps operate Spotted Owl Farm, a Blaine family farm that partners with Dandelion Organic Delivery. Cross said the farm that he runs with his wife, Diane Cross, has largely catered to restaurants like the Semiahmoo Resort but is shifting part of the farm’s focus on community-supported agriculture as Covid-19 changes customer demand in the restaurant industry. 

Cross said he was working to expand his produce to the community in June, when more produce ripens,
including increasing his presence at the Blaine Farmers Market this summer. 

The five-acre farm specializes in tomatoes but also grows other produce like strawberries, hot peppers and herbs. 

“We try to branch out,” Cross said. “It’s very difficult to bring in one product to 40 different places as opposed to bringing 10-14 products to five or six different places.”

Cross said local farms produce quality flavor unmatched by food found in big box stores.

“Anything that has to travel hundreds of miles through California or Mexico, that stuff has no flavor,” Cross said. “Fresh tomatoes, vine-ripened off of our farm are amazing. There’s good flavors there instead of just water.” 

“I like to be able to walk amongst the fields and the crops and pick things straight off and know that there’s no chemicals on there and that nothing really needs to be rinsed off,” Cross said. “No one should have to worry about eating pesticides or eating herbicides because bugs and weeds can be controlled using other methods.”

Cross has also begun selling strawberries from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at his newly renovated farmstand at 4371 Sweet Road. 

“What we use the farmstand for is stuff that we haven’t sold to other customers but this year we should have enough of almost everything to have a really good variety out there,” Cross said. 

Home Farm, a 25-acre farm in Blaine, is also increasing its farmstand tenfold to include a large refrigeration section and extra shelving, said co-owner Bridgette DiMonda.

The farmstand, open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 8020 Kickerville Road, offers items like cheese, nuts and coffee in its off-season and adds fruits and vegetables to the mix in mid-June. 

DiMonda said the best part of the farm is creating stronger ties with the community while nurturing them. 

“Our whole philosophy is getting people to come to us to experience farming, to learn about it,” DiMonda said. 

“We don’t sell to grocery stores, we don’t sell to farmers markets. We live on the farm. It’s like you’re coming to our house when you’re on the farm. We welcome everybody and say ‘come on out and learn about it.’”

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