VOLUNTEER VIEW: Cloud Mountain farm builds experience, local food systems

Cloud Mountain Farm Center was established as a non-profit in 2011 and had about 25 volunteers in 2014.

Purpose: Cloud Mountain Farm Center, nestled against the Cascade foothills in rural Whatcom County, has been a working farm since 1978. Cloud Mountain became a non-profit community farm center in 2011, dedicated to providing hands-on learning experiences to aspiring farmers, experienced farmers and home gardeners. These unique educational experiences are fully integrated with the management and operation of our 45-acre farm and retail nursery. The center’s programs include a 10-month, full-time farm intern program, crop variety research trials, community workshops, farmer speaker series, farm incubator program, vegetable processing plant for Farm to School, and a regional food hub aggregation and distribution site. Support for these education programs comes from grants, donations and revenue from the center’s onsite retail nursery and wide variety of produce grown on the farm and sold locally. The center’s mission is to build experience, knowledge and community to expand dynamic local food systems.

Volunteer highlights: The annual Fruit Festival brings nearly 2,000 people to the farm each fall where they can taste up to 200 varieties of fruit grown on the farm. Volunteers are essential in the success of that event whether helping to direct cars, staffing the kid’s art table or the core group of fruit enthusiasts who’ve been helping in the tasting tent for more than 10 years. The goal of the festival has always been to raise awareness with attendees about the wide variety of produce that can be grown in this region, much of which is not typically available at the local grocery stores.

Signature fundraiser: Fall Fruit Festival, Oct. 3-4; Cloud Mountain Farm Center, 6906 Goodwin Road, Everson.

Wish list: A new or used computer capable of running Windows 7 and a label maker.

Volunteer needs: Fruit tree potting, riparian planting, plant care in the nursery, painting, variety of event support including help park cars, field help with vineyard and vegetables, basic woodworking to build shelves and picnic tables and support organizing stored materials.

For more information, go online to cloudmountainfarmcenter.org.