Apple farmers care for trees just as parents take care of their kids

Orchard worker Jeff Howard picks Gala Apples at BelleWood Acres in 2014.
Orchard worker Jeff Howard picks Gala Apples at BelleWood Acres in 2014. The Bellingham Herald

Autumn at BelleWood Acres farm and distillery north of Bellingham means apples, pumpkins and seasonal activities such as a corn maze and the “corn cannon.”

BelleWood Acres, 6140 Guide Meridian, boasts a 25,000-tree apple orchard featuring 20 apple varieties that’s one of the largest in Western Washington. It’s open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

“As soon as the apples start, we’ll have iU-pick” said co-owner Dorie Belisle. “On weekends, that’s when the harvest happens.”

There’s no admission fee to the farm, but there are fees for some of the various activities. Harvest season begins Sept. 1 and runs through early November, Belisle said. Visitors can rent golf carts for self-guided tours, or hop aboard the Apple Bin Express for a train ride through the orchard. Guided tours are available at $6 (free for age 2 and younger) for groups of eight or more, scheduled in advance. They also have gourds, Indian corn, corn stalks, hay bales and mums for fall decorating. There’s a farm market for produce, a gift store, live music, and the Country Cafe and bakery.

BelleWood will be a stop on the annual Whatcom County Farm Tour, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10. Agricultural education is part of BelleWood’s philosophy, Belisle said.

“It’s really important for all of us to understand the miracle of seed to tree,” she said. “We take care of our trees just as (parents) take care of their kids. It’s important for us to know where (our) food comes from. Even the corn maze is educational. Last year the corn maze had nine dead ends, each with a farm fact.”

Check the website at bellewoodfarms.com for a ripening calendar and information about seasonal activities. Or call 360-318-7720.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @bhamMitty