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BelleWood Acres for sale as owners prepare for retirement

BelleWood Acres owners John and Dorie Belisle stand in their pumpkin patch on Oct. 23, 2013. The Belisles are putting the farm up for sale as they prepare for retirement.
BelleWood Acres owners John and Dorie Belisle stand in their pumpkin patch on Oct. 23, 2013. The Belisles are putting the farm up for sale as they prepare for retirement. The Bellingham Herald

John and Dorie Belisle are preparing to retire, but BelleWood Acres isn’t going away.

Last week the property halfway between Bellingham and Lynden was listed for sale on real estate websites, sparking social media speculation that the farm was closing. The Belisles have no plans to close the 62-acre farm, which includes an apple orchard, corn maze, pumpkin patch, event center, store, restaurant and distillery, but they are looking for someone to take over ownership.

While searching for a successor, BelleWood Acres at 6140 Guide Meridian will continue normal operations, with its regular events already scheduled and some new ones being planned for the coming months, Dorie Belisle said.

The asking price for the property is $5.5 million; the sale is being handled by their son, Mike Belisle.

The Belisles began planning an exit nearly a year ago as other family members were successfully involved in other careers. They plan to take time to make sure they find the right person or group to take over the property because it has become an important part of the community, Dorie said. It’s a process that could take a month or another year, depending on interest in the property.

50,000+Number of annual visitors to BelleWood Acres

As they ponder retirement, both John and Dorie said it’s been an honor growing fruit from soil and sunshine, something they’ve come to appreciate in the 20-plus years they’ve operated BelleWood Acres.

“It’s been a ride of joy,” Dorie said.

They began growing apples in 1995, developing an orchard that produces many varieties. In 2002 they opened a small store on the property and began telling their story as well as educating customers who dropped by to do u-pick.

In 2012 they opened a 14,000-square-foot space that is home to the restaurant, gift shop and distillery.

The farm produced 1.6 million pounds of fruit in 2015 and has more than 50,000 visitors a year, according to the Belisles.

John said the distillery and tasting room have done well since those began four years ago; according to their income statement annual distillery sales were nearly $300,000 in 2015. There is room for it to grow by expanding into regional markets, a move he hasn’t had a chance to fully tackle because his focus has been on the farm.

“There’s an opportunity to take the distillery to the next level,” he said.

Sales of all the different BelleWood Acres products totaled just over $2.2 million in 2015, while expenses were around $1.8 million, according to the income statement.

For details about the farm, visit Bellewoodfarms.com. For further information about the sale of the property, call Mike Belisle at 360-739-8142.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz

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