Op-Ed

Farm center aids food knowledge

Cloud Mountain Farm Center interns pot fruit trees for the nursery in March, 2016.
Cloud Mountain Farm Center interns pot fruit trees for the nursery in March, 2016. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Cloud Mountain Farm Center was established in 2011 and had about 46 volunteers in 2015.

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 farm education 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 and a regional food hub aggregation and distribution site as part of the Puget Sound Food Hub. Support for these education programs comes from grants, donations and revenue from the center’s onsite retail nursery and the sale of the wide variety of produce grown on the farm. 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 this fun event whether helping to direct cars, staffing the kid’s art table and cider press, or the fruit enthusiasts who’ve been helping in the tasting tent for over 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. In addition to event support volunteers are needed year round to help in the nursery with a range of potting, weeding and plant propagation tasks.

Signature fundraiser: Fall Fruit Festival, Oct. 1-2, 2016, Cloud Mountain Farm Center in Everson.

Wish list: A heavy0gauge wire cart on wheels for use when packing produce, a pallet jack to help move produce in and out of the cooler and a 65-horsepower tractor.

Current volunteer needs: Learn about growing native, ornamental and food plants while volunteering in the nursery. Help us with up-potting, shearing/pruning, weeding, landscape maintenance and other supervised propagation tasks. We need event volunteers at Summer Harvest Day July 30 and the Fruit Festival Oct. 1-2.

For more information, go online to cloudmountainfarmcenter.org.

VOLUNTEER MONTH

April is National Volunteer Month and The Bellingham Herald has partnered with the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County to highlight local non-profit agencies that offer opportunities to become involved in our community. For more information online about the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County, go to whatcomvolunteer.org.

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