With a vegetable garden in full swing and a plethora of greenery – broccoli, lettuce, carrots and green beans, our farmer’s market trips are getting fewer and farther between because the market is growing right in our backyard. But, it’s berry season and we don’t grow enough raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries to fulfill all my needs desires cravings for smoothies, jam, tarts, pies, shortcakes, muffins and everything in between. So, that’s where the u-pick farms that abound in Whatcom County come in.
Bellingham Country Gardens has been on my radar for the past year and I was not going to miss a visit this season for no-spray strawberries. The weather in Washington has been less than sunny this summer. Everything is behind schedule and many farmers have been struggling with crops that just won’t sprout and sun that just won’t shine. It has been wet, dreary weather that is keeping mother nature’s schedule on a perpetual 3-week delay. Strawberries normally get going in early June, but I knew things were behind after watching my everbearings in the garden. I phoned Sam at Bellingham Country Gardens and asked him to keep me in the loop. He kindly took down my phone number and said he would call when the berries were ready for picking.
And, call he did. We stayed in touch over a two-week period and worked to figure out a day that worked for us to come by, the strawberries to be plentiful and Sam to have the farm open. We were able to come out to the farm when my Dad was visiting California – can you say “another pair of picking hands”?! The farm is located in the foothills of Mount Baker and is a beautiful spread of land. Sam was so welcoming and greeted us at the car as we pulled up. He even joined us in the fields picking and padded Beckett’s basket with his pickings. My dad and him talked grandchildren and swapped stories of how special it is to be in that role. The service, the friendship and the time spent on the farm was priceless. But, then there were the berries.
The strawberries we picked were stunningly gorgeous. They were large, heart-shaped ruby beauties that packed a full-bodied, sweet strawberry flavor. With four adults picking over a thirty minute period, we collected over 17 pounds. The variety that Bellingham Country Gardens grows is albion and it’s an everbearing that gives fruit in June and mid to late August. With a second harvest in late summer, we are going to make sure we swing out to the farm for another round of picking. The farm also has a variety of vegetables and other fruits and each one adheres to a no-spray growing regimen. The growing season of their crop make it possible to visit the farm from May to September.
I love spending time meeting local farmers doing good by their word and farming sustainably. Berries are big business in Whatcom County, but it’s so hard to find farmers offering no-spray or organic fruits. I couldn’t pass up meeting a kind man, spending time on a beautiful farm, supporting a local business and stocking our freezer with healthy, spray-free berries.
Bellingham Country Gardens
- 2838 E Kelly Rd, Bellingham, WA 98226