Farm Tunes

Take a bite out of fall

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Every day when I wake up, I open the blinds and there before me is another perfect Bellingham summer day. Then I heave a sigh of relief and go about the rest of my morning.

However, as I was walking home after dark last weekend, I was forced to acknowledge the beginnings of a bite in the air, which then forced me to consider that summer could be waning.

Everything in me recoiled from that notion. Worse, I was consumed with resentment by the passage of time and season.

But then I found myself thinking of warm sweaters and hot beverages, which turned to thoughts of pumpkin patches and apple orchards, which turned, naturally, to a hankering for apple cider donuts, which caused me to remember that as summer turns to fall, the best of both seasons can be found at BelleWood Acres, particularly on Fridays through Sept. 29, when live music can be had via the Farm Tunes series.

If you have lived in this area for any length of time, you’ve likely munched your way through your fair share of BelleWood’s meal-sized HoneyCrisp apples and/or consumed an entire tub of their honey roasted peanut butter during a single weekend (I can’t be the only one here). If you’ve been an excellent friend or employee, you’ve maybe been gifted with a bottle of the spirits they distill from the fruit they grow, a bottle that you’ve then hoarded over many months and parceled out slowly as though you knew you’d never be a good enough friend or employee again to warrant such a gift (yep, that one’s me again too).

But if you’ve never been to the place where all this magic originates—i.e. the 14,000-square-foot farm center just off the Guide Meridian near Lynden—Farm Tunes is a perfect excuse to make the trip.

Right now, BelleWood is sampling six of its varieties of apples in its store/cafe/distillery/donut shack, so you can decide on the one that has the perfect sweetness to tartness to crunch to juiciness ratio for you and then buy a dozen on the spot, or set out into the orchards to pick some for yourself. After you’ve finished laboring to harvest your own food, you can unwind in the cafe with a homemade snack or meal and then slake your thirst with cider (either the adult or child-friendly kind) or a cocktail crafted with liquor they’ve distilled themselves.

Although BelleWood typically calls it a day at 5pm (as befits any enterprise that involves getting up before the sun for most of the year), during Farm Tunes they extend the hours until 9pm, keep the cafe open and invite the public to experience their not-so-little slice of county heaven set to a soundtrack of bluegrass and old-timey bands. All the food served in the cafe is homemade from homegrown and local ingredients, and if I were one to micromanage the food choices of others (I am totally that person), I would make certain all meals were augmented by a Moscow mule made with BelleWood vodka, and a slice of Dorie’s pie, any flavor will do.

Since Farm Tunes has been going for a few weeks now, Farmstrong, Prozac Mountain Boys, and the Broken Bow Stringband have already taken their turns on the Bellewood stage. But plenty of musical entertainment is still in store before the farm turns its attention toward the harvest, cider and holiday happenings that will mark the rest of its 2017 calendar.

Still remaining on the roster are the Elopements (Aug. 25), Robert Sarazin Blake and the Put-It-All-Down-In-A-Letters (Sept. 1), Tea Seas Trio (Sept. 8), Lost at Last (Sept. 15), Queen’s Bluegrass (Sept. 22), and the whole thing will culminate in a Sept. 29 season finale show and dance featuring the Downtown Mountain Boys. Even though all of the Farm Tunes bands fall under the loose general heading of “bluegrass,” they encompass a wide variety of styles and sounds. Which means you can come for pulled pork sandwiches and the lovely lady harmonies of the Elopements one week and return for chili and the outsider folk of Robert Sarazin Blake the next week and so on until fall is truly upon us.

And then if you have to hole up indoors for six months with an apple slice in one hand and a tub of peanut butter in the other in order to cope with fall and winter in Whatcom County, I certainly am not one to judge.

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