Farms to Gardens
A closer look at summer’s bounty
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
When naysayers open their mouths to argue that tomatoes tastes the same whether they’re purchased from Costco or from a local farmer, I’ve been known to take that opportunity to place a still-warm, just-plucked cherry tomato in their maw and ask them to reconsider their views. Typically, this is enough to shut them up—at least until it’s time to ask for a second (or third) taste test.
With summer’s bounty in its full, delicious glory, now is the time to convert remaining skeptics. To do so, two events happening in the near future will help make believers out of those who still aren’t convinced that farm-fresh fruit and vegetables are superior to produce that’s traveled hundreds—or thousands—of miles to reach your table.
Begin with the Skagit Food Co-op’s annual “Bike to Farm” tour starting at 9am Sat., Aug. 5 at Mount Vernon’s Edgewater Park, 600 Behrens Millett Rd. From there, bicyclists led by co-op staff members will pedal to the first stop at Skagit Flats Farm, where Andy and Laura Ross grow a variety of lettuces, onions, squash and other organic vegetables on their 13-acre farm.
After a quick tour of the acreage and a sample or two of the seasonal offerings, continue on to Living Rain Farm and Ralph’s Greenhouse on Calhoun Road for more organic wonders. You’ll find that leeks are the main crop at Ralph’s—which doesn’t actually have a greenhouse, and is run by a friendly fella named Ray deVries. Along with perusing other flower and vegetable crops, there’s a good chance attendees can sample carrots or other earthy edibles they dig themselves from the fertile soil.
Round-trip, it’s about an eight-mile journey thus far, but those interested in adding some time to their foodie road trip can head to Hedlin’s Family Farms, where 400 acres near the mouth of the Skagit River produce close to 40 crops and more than 100 different varieties of field- and greenhouse-grown produce. There’s no need to register for the tour, just show up with your helmet on, water and light snacks to keep you fortified.
From 4-6pm on Thurs., Aug. 10, see and taste the fruits of WSU Whatcom County Extension’s Community First Garden Project. At the annual summer tour, the public can join Master Gardeners to peruse five of the project’s gardens, starting at the Happy Valley Community Garden (located on 32nd Street between Taylor and Donovan avenues) and ending at Ferndale’s Friendship Garden.
At the free event, participants will visit with gardeners at the shared spaces, nibble fresh produce and receive a map and directory of all the Whatcom County gardens for future visits—from Lummi Island to Blaine, Sumas, Kendall, Lynden, and Everson.
At both events, those in attendance will learn more about what it takes to grow food locally, and why it makes a big difference at the dinner table. If you’re still not convinced flavor is a factor, it’s time to have your taste buds tested.
For more details about these events, go to http://www.skagitfoodcoop.com or www.whatcom.wsu.edu
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