It's nearly time for Whatcom County strawberries to hit the market

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 1, 2013 

Retailtipsheet Boxx Berry

Mike Boxx of Boxx Berry Farm holds Hone Oye strawberries at his family farm on Northwest Road north of Bellingham, Thursday, May 30, 2013. Boxx says that despite all the recent rain they will have strawberries for sale this weekend.

PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

It's that time of year when Whatcom County residents start yearning for local strawberries, and this year could be a good harvest.

Last week Boxx Berry Farm had a few early varieties of strawberries ready for picking, with the bulk of the picking likely later this week and next week, Mike Boxx said. Some regional varieties are already available at places like Joe's Gardens in Bellingham.

According to a weekly newsletter from Portland-based Peerbolt Crop Management, strawberries have been sizing up nicely in some areas across the Pacific Northwest. Boxx agreed, saying the recent stretch of cool, rainy weather has given the berries a chance to slow down and grow. Now Boxx is hoping for a run of warm, sunny weather so the berries will ripen and sweeten.

Berry growers to this point have benefited from a relatively mild winter, which could mean earlier harvests for Whatcom's other main crops, raspberries and blueberries. Those crops are typically harvested in July and August.

As many experienced u-pickers know, the strawberry harvest doesn't last long, generally a couple weeks. Boxx is not quite sure which will be the best picking days, so he recommends either calling ahead (360-380-2699) or checking for updates on Boxx Berry Farm Facebook page

"We've been doing this a long time, you would think we'd be better at predicting these things," Boxx said with a laugh. "So far, though, the crops all look pretty good."

BIRCH BAY WATERSLIDES MAKES IMPROVEMENTS TO FACILITY

Birch Bay Waterslides kicked off its 30th year with some changes that should benefit customers.

The first change is allowing outside food into the facility. For years that wasn't the case, but the owners have decided to try a more family-friendly policy. While outside food is allowed, chest or picnic coolers are not because of the possibility of hiding a variety of prohibited items, including alcohol and glass, said Kristen Freeman, park manager.

The new policy started with the opening on Memorial Day weekend and there were no major problems, Freeman said.

The second major change takes place when the business switches to its daily schedule on June 22. That's when the Birch Bay Pizza Place is scheduled to open, serving customers inside the waterslide area. The pizza parlor is in the same space formerly occupied by Little Caesars but has been remodeled in a way that allows waterslide patrons to order and eat pizza. In previous years customers had to go outside the waterslide facility to order a pizza.

The new pizza place will have its own seating area and an arcade.

The waterslides had an anniversary celebration on opening weekend, but the owners are planning a bigger event later in the season, Freeman said.

Birch Bay Waterslides is currently open on weekends, then 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily June 22 through Sept. 3. Details and updates can be found on its Facebook page.

THE WAILING GOAT ESPRESSO BACK WITH GOODIES FOR TRAILGOERS

Suzanne Lundberg has reopened The Wailing Goat Espresso on the South Bay Trail next to The Hub Community Bike Shop.

This is the second season for the café, which is tucked away in a small building that's visible to residents on the trail. It has limited street access, so it prides itself on having a bike-thru and focusing on pedestrian traffic.

Lundberg is a trail runner and got the idea while venturing out on the local trails. She started the idea in Sudden Valley but moved it to its current spot. Along with baked goods from Mount Bakery and coffee from Bellingham Bay Coffee Roasters, the Wailing Goat is known for its honey goat latte, which features goat milk from Whatcom-based Grace Harbor Farms. The café is also known for its local artwork.

Lundberg said last season started off slow, but she received positive feedback from customers. Business picked up right after April and does particularly well on Saturdays during the Bellingham Farmers Market.

The café's name, by the way, is inspired from a legend about the discovery of coffee: A goat-herder in Ethiopia noticed the goats becoming energetic after chewing on the berries. She pictures the goats wailing in anticipation for more coffee berries.

Wailing Goat is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, closing during the winter months. Details can be found on its Facebook page.

OTHER TIDBITS

• A permit application was filed for a new emergency animal clinic building at 561 W. Bakerview Road, near the Windermere Real Estate building.

• A tenant improvement permit was issued to put a temporary pharmacy in the old Hollywood Video space at the Lakeway Fred Meyer store as the major remodel continues at the rest of the store.

Retail Tip Sheet runs each Sunday.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Business blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/business or follow him on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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