Winter may be a time when Whatcom County locavores (people who eat only locally grown food as much as possible) have fewer fresh ingredients from which to choose, but theres no shortage of local food-related activities. Some are of interest to the public and some are more specialized for farmers and others in agriculture work. Heres a sampling:
Tonight, Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m., you can see author Vicki Robin at Village Books, 1200 11th St., talk about her latest book, Blessing the Hands That Feed Us: What Eating Closer to Home Can Teach Us About Food, Community, and Our Place On Earth. (If you didnt read my review of her book in this column two weeks ago, go to bellinghamherald.com and use the search box to find Vicki Robin.)
Besides being a previously successful co-author of Your Money or Your Life, Vicki participates regularly in a comedy improv group, so her speaking events tend to be hilarious as well as thought-provoking. I wouldnt miss it, and I hope youll be there too.
Sustainable Connections Food and Farming Program is updating their Whatcom Food and Farm Finder booklet, probably the single most important resource in our area for people who want to eat locally grown food. Want to find farmers markets, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs or restaurants that feature local ingredients? Youll find them listed there.
How about u-pick farms, farm stands and groceries with food from local farmers? Again, its all in the booklet, complete with contact information and map. Are you seeking particular ingredients or a list of whats typically available fresh each season? Which farms are certified organic? Where Salmon Safe food is being raised? Its all there.
The new 2014 version will be available starting in April. Get one at Terra Organica in the Public Market, 1530 Cornwall Ave., or at either of the Community Food Co-op locations, 1220 N. Forest St. or 315 Westerly Road, both in Bellingham. Theyre free, and will also be available online at sustainableconnections.org/foodfarming/.
Sustainable Connections also hosts events for farmers and farm businesses during the winter. For example, they recently held a workshop on Marketing Your Local Food that gave farmers a chance to talk with chefs, grocers, food artisans and others who purchase local foods.
Along the same lines, they help organize an annual Northwest Farm-to-Table Trade Meeting for farmers and food buyers from Whatcom, Skagit, Island and San Juan counties. Networking and putting food growers in touch with food buyers is the goal. The meeting this year is Feb. 17. Contact Sara Southerland for more information at 360-647-7093, ext. 114.
You might think that Bellingham Farmers Market farm vendors would have folded up their tents until next spring, but a surprising number are still going strong. For the second year, the market is open the third Saturday of each winter month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The next winter market will be Saturday, Feb. 15, at Depot Market Square on Railroad Avenue between Chestnut and Maple streets. Dress warm and check it out.
Bellingham Food Co-op has a revolving loan fund for farmers and is currently taking application for this year. Loans from $500 to $5,000 help farmers finance special projects. For instance, Terra Verde recently used a loan to help cover the cost of converting one of their tractors to run on electricity.
Farmer Skuter Fontaine says the project has been successful, and had the unexpected side effect of making it easier to train their summer help to do tilling. A gas or diesel tractor requires several controls to operate, he explained, but on the electric tractor theres just one lever push it forward to go, and push it further to go faster. That allows new helpers to focus on not tilling up vegetables instead of weeds, something that requires a fair amount of concentration. (See the videos of tilling on Terra Verdes Facebook page.) They hope to convert a second tractor soon.
Theres so much more going on, but I hope this gives you an idea of the variety. Check the Co-op, Whatcom Folk School, and Whatcom Community College for classes based on local foods.
If youre a gardener, watch for seed exchanges. You also might check out the 2014 Uprising Seeds catalog, online at uprisingorganics.com.
Finally, for the kids in your life, read about the Farm to Schools CSA box contest at whatcomfarmtoschool.org/. The contest closes the end of this month.
2 tablespoons hazelnut oil (Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards, Lynden) 1 small onion, diced (Terra Verde, Everson) 1¼ cups flour (Fairhaven Organic Flour Mills, Burlington) 1¾ teaspoon baking powder ¾ tsp salt 2 cups grated parsnips (Rabbit Fields Farm, Everson) 1 egg, beaten (neighbor, Lummi Island) ¼ cup milk (I used buttermilk left from making butter with cream from Silver Springs Creamery, Lynden) ¼ cup grated firm cheese (I used gouda from Appel Farms, Ferndale) 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (Alm Hill Gardens, Bellingham) 1¼- inch smoked cayenne pepper, finely minced (Rabbit Fields Farm, Everson)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the hazelnut oil over medium heat in a heavy skillet. When hot, add the diced onion. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent with just a touch of brown color. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the grated parsnips, beaten egg and milk. Add the grated cheese, fresh thyme leaves and minced smoked cayenne pepper. Add the sautéed onions and mix again. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until they pull together into a dough. Add small amounts of milk, if more moisture is necessary. Form a round loaf on a well-oiled baking pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes until lightly browned. Makes 1 loaf.
You'll find Whatcom County foods at these stores and farms. Many outlets have seasonal hours. We recommend you call or check websites for current hours.
Acme Farms + Kitchen, 1313 N State Street, Bellingham
Appel Farms Cheese Shoppe, 6605 Northwest Road, Ferndale; 360-384-4996
Artisan Wine Gallery, 2072 Granger Way, Lummi Island; 360-758-2959
BelleWood Acres, 6140 Guide Meridian, Lynden; 360-318-7720
Bellingham Country Gardens (u-pick vegetables), 2838 East Kelly Road, Bellingham
Bellingham Farmers Market, Railroad at Chestnut; 360-647-2060
Boxx Berry Farm Store and u-pick, 6211 Northwest Road, Ferndale; 360-380-2699
Cloud Mountain Farm Nursery, 6906 Goodwin Road, Everson; 360-966-5859
Community Food Cooperative, 1220 N. Forest St. and 315 Westerly Road, Bellingham; 360-734-8158
Five Loaves Farm, 514 Liberty St., Lynden
Ferndale Public Market, Centennial Riverwalk, Ferndale; 360-410-7747
Grace Harbor Farms, 2347 Birch Bay Lynden Road, Custer; 360-366-4151
The Green Barn, 211 Birch Bay-Lynden Road, Lynden; 360-318-8869
Hopewell Farm, 3072 Massey Road, Everson; 360-927-8433
The Islander, 2106 S. Nugent Road, Lummi Island; 360-758-2190
Joe's Garden, 3110 Taylor Avenue, Bellingham, 360-671-7639
Lynden Farmers Market, Fourth and Front streets, Lynden
The Markets LLC, 1030 Lakeway, Bellingham; 8135 Birch Bay Square St., Blaine; 360-714-9797
Pleasant Valley Dairy, 6804 Kickerville Road, Ferndale; 360-366-5398
Small's Gardens, 6451 Northwest Road, Ferndale; 360-384-4637
Terra Organica, 1530 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham; 360-715-8020
Reach Whatcom Locavore columnist Nancy Ging at 360-758-2529 or email@example.com. To follow her day- to-day locavore activities, go to Whatcom Locavore on Facebook or @whatcomlocavore on Twitter. For locavore menus, recipes and more resources, go to whatcomlocavore.com.