Cloud Mountain Farm Center
Strawberries, blueberries, cherries, apples, pears, peaches, pumpkins, and so many more types of produce cover the 20 acres of farmland known as Cloud Mountain Farm Center.
Cheryl and Tom Thornton began their family farm in 1978 with commercial apple trees, garlic, and a nursery. In 2011, it transformed into a non-profit community farm designed to help farmers and gardeners learn.
Cheryl Thornton describes their programs as a three-legged stool. The first leg provides an incubator for new farmers and interns where they learn agriculture production and management skills. The second leg gives farmers a place for research, discussion and distribution of their produce for the Puget Sound Food Hub. The third leg educates home gardeners with community workshops.
“Education is our passion,” Thornton said. She gets joy by being able to help people learn.
Workshops teach people how to grow fruit trees, wine and table grapes, a vegetable garden, apples and pears, organic fruit, and even how to raise pigs and poultry.
Hands-on workshops have been extremely successful since they began them. They have done workshops in the snow, the hail, the rain, and the heat, but people still come, Thornton said.
Cloud Mountain has now partnered with the Whatcom County Library System to bring workshops into town. Thornton also hopes to connect with more of Whatcom County outside of Bellingham.
In 2016, they helped 375 community members grow their own food in 30 well-attended workshops.
Local restaurants and businesses such as Boundary Bay Brewery, Aslan Brewing Company, Goat Mountain Pizza, and Mallard Ice Cream use produce from the center.
On October 7, the 28th annual Fall Fruit Festival, held during apple season, will kick off the weekend with more than 200 varieties of fruits, live music, a cider press, educational kids’ activities, and Pizza’zza food truck. This event offers learning experiences for all ages and allows the community to come together.
If you have always wanted to become a home gardener or you’re a farmer interested in advancing, Cloud Mountain Farm Center has the resources, trust, and friendly people to get you there.