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From vegetables and cheese to milk, grass-fed beef, chicken, pork or wine, families are encouraged to see another side of Whatcom County – where the locally grown food is brought to life … and to local plates and palettes. The fifth annual Whatcom County Farm Tour is Saturday, Sept. 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. As few or as many of the farms can be visited by region or by interest.

The free, self-guided and family-friendly tour shows between 10 to 13 farms yearly. Visitors can enjoy meeting producers and their products: corn, ice cream, cider and lotion are just a sampling of what’s to be experienced. Almost every stop allows visitors to meet with the farmers, sample foods and products, tour facilities and purchase something for home use. Find out what farms are on the list this year by picking up the graphically pleasing map available mid-August at the Community Food Co-op and local farmers’ markets. Bicycle routes, in partnership with Everybody Bike, also are available.

In addition to the one-day tour, the map contains information about 68 diverse area farms listed by category, 44 local food business that have taken the “Eat Local First” pledge, 34 restaurants and cafes committed to serving local, fresh fare, as well as an “Eat With the Seasons” guide to show crops’ harvest dates throughout the growing season.

“Sustainable Connections (SC) is a network of 600- plus local, independently owned businesses working together to transform a community based on sustainable practices,” said Sara Southerland, SC’s food and farming outreach coordinator. The Sustainable Connections’ Food & Farming program supports new farmers, connects eaters and food buyers to local farms and fishers, and is a resource for building a sustainable local food economy in Whatcom County.

For more information, see www.eatlocalfirst.org

August/September 2012 Bellingham Alive/North Sound Life