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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Sustainable Connections to host 12th annual Whatcom County Farm Tour

Flowers from Triple Wren Farm north of Bellingham. // Photo courtesy of Diana Meeks

By Ellis Thomson

In a nod to the farms of Whatcom County, which produce a variety of goods for the community and region, nonprofit community organizer Sustainable Connections is hosting its 12th annual Whatcom County Farm Tour.

This free event, set for September 8 and 9, will grant the public access to the routines of a handful of farmers throughout the county.  

Tours will be held on both days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and can begin or end with any farm on that day’s list. Twelve farms plan to participate on Saturday and seven on Sunday.

“This year we have the greatest variety of farms that I’ve seen,” said Diana Meeks, media and communications specialist for Sustainable Connections. “Traditional vegetable growers, dairies, flower farms and a farm that grows yak, which we have never had.”

Atwood Acres Blaine’s only brewery is another unique farm that will join the tour for the first time. Monica and Josh Smith have been growing hops and producing beer on the land for two years.

“It’s great to have people actually see the way we grow ingredients,” Monica said as she brandished a tray of plastic cups filled with her Dark Harbor Oyster Stout on Saturday during the Bellingham Farmers Market.

“We brew beer that pairs well with food, and I think this will connect us with people that value that,” Monica said.

Whatcom boasts around 1,700 operating farms, each averaging 68 acres with a combined market value of $357 million, according to a 2012 census from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Sustainable Connections finds farms to participate in the tour through connecting with subscribers of its newsletter and general word of mouth.

“We put out a call through all of our channels and invite anyone to participate,” Meeks said.  “It’s a mix of farms that we know and work with a lot. It’s a wide net that we cast.”

Growing Veterans is another farm caught up in Sustainable Connections’ outreach efforts.

Participating in the tour will spread awareness of the farm’s broader mission to provide community and support for veterans, said Dannie Hopkins, Growing Veterans business manager.

“There is lots of folks doing great farming work around here,” Hopkins said. “This is a great opportunity to reach out and find some folks to come volunteer with us.”

The farm tour is a part of Sustainable Connections’ Eat Local Month, during which the nonprofit promotes food products cultivated in the county with events and promotions.

Interactive Map courtesy of Sustainable Connections

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