Bite Local

Food, farms and fun



WHAT: Whatcom County Farm Tour
WHEN: 10am-5pm Sat., Sept. 13
WHERE: Throughout Whatcom County
COST: Entry is free; attendees can get VIP tickets for $25 which will include a goodie bag with coupons for tour stops,  samples and a “Where the Locals Go” coupon book

WHAT: Bite of Bellingham
WHEN: 12-4pm Sun., Sept. 14
WHERE: Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave.
COST: Entry is free; food and beverage tickets will be for sale for $1 each

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I’d never actually do it, but I’ve theorized that attempting to not eat locally during the month of September while living in the Pacific Northwest is a challenge that would be extremely difficult to take on.

In order for that to happen, I’d have to let the plums, blackberries, tomatoes, chard and kale that are growing in profusion in my garden wither and die rather than harvest them for instant gratification or to store for the fall and winter.

I’d also have to stay far away from any farmers markets I encountered, turn down any gifts of Lummi Island-caught Dungeness crab and sockeye salmon that came my way (thanks, Dad!), ignore the pounds of ripe peaches that might show up on my doorstep in the dark of night, decline to trade a gazillion pounds of zucchini for previously pickled and preserved veggies and fruits from a friend who’s savvy in the kitchen, and stay home with the shades drawn during events such as the Whatcom County Farm Tour and the Bite of Bellingham.

Of course, I would never dream of eschewing the plethora of gustatory goods that are front and center this time of year. You shouldn’t, either.

Per usual, Sustainable Connections is there to guide the way. As a highlight of its “Eat Local” month—which draws attention to local foods, farmers and fishers through the month of September with cooking classes, movies, cruises, a food trek, special dinners and more—the organization will host the previously mentioned Whatcom County Farm Tour this coming weekend.

Come Sat., Sept. 14, anybody who’s willing to “taste, explore and experience” what farming in the area is all about can visit one or more of the 12 stops on this year’s tour to do so.

While the Bellingham Farmers Market and the Ferndale Public Market are naturals for gleaning a lot of details—and menu items—about a variety of produce in the area, other stops on the free, family-friendly tour will also include educational and interactive activities that will help attendees see the bigger picture when it comes to growing and producing food in Whatcom County.

Examples include exploring the “living laboratory” at Everson’s Cloud Mountain Farm Center; seeing what the “beyond organic” biodynamic methods and permaculture programs at Inspiration Farm are all about; sampling the selection of cheese, wine, meats and produce at Everybody’s Store & Garden in Van Zandt; learning more about the farm-fresh cheeses at Appel Farms & Cheese Shop; and touring the distillery and crops at BelleWood Acres.

While day-trippers should be sure to take advantage of the proximity of food items that will be available during the tour, be sure to save room for the fare to be found at the ninth annual Bite of Bellingham happening the next day at the Depot Market Square.

Although the event is presented by the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, it also falls under Sustainable Connections’ “Eat Local” month umbrella by focusing on the best of what restauranteurs in the area are up to—which I’m guessing includes a lot of recipes sourced with locally procured menu items.

The event is also a great way for both longtime residents and newbies to check out a variety of what the city’s eateries have to offer—whether it’s cajun fare from Bayou on Bay, pasta by the Table, soups from Leaf & Ladle, sweets from places such as Pure Bliss Desserts, Evolve Truffles, and Mad Batter Cupcakes & Confections, seafood prepared by Rock & Rye, or mouthfuls of Mexican food courtesy of Mi Casa Catering.

After sampling as many “bites” as possible from the 20-plus vendors, those who make it to the Depot Market Square for the event can also vote on a variety of categories—including “Best Drink,” “Best Bite,” “Best Sweet” and more.

Last year’s Bite of Bellingham drew a crowd of more than 3,500, so it might behoove you to show up early in order to ensure you get a taste of what you came for. Another option is to stay home for the weekend and ignore the bounty that’s right there for the taking. Your choice.

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