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Local Travels: Whatcom’s South Fork Valley

Jul 13th, 2010 | Category: Community


by Mike Conway

I like two-lane highways. In the exception of when I need to get somewhere very fast, when it comes to road trips in the Northwest, I always travel via two lane highways. I feel like I get to actually see some of the communities I am passing through, rather than bypass them in the distance. I also get to stop and see what good stuff the locals offer.
Last summer I was headed to the Mt. Baker region, and took Highway 9 north from Sedro-Woolley to catch the Mount Baker Highway at Deming, about 15 miles east of Bellingham. This area is referred to as the South Fork Valley, home to the communities of Acme and Van Zandt, and is surrounded by the North Cascade Mountains to the east and Lake Whatcom to the west. The Nooksack River meanders through the area. I was struck by the beauty of this fair little highway, and the bucolic landscape. There are a number of farms, and rolling hills as the North Cascades rise to the east, most especially the amazing Twin Sisters, which on any clear day is an absolutely stunning sight. I saw a number of cyclists up and down the highway, and many people with inner tubes and kayaks near the the South Fork of the Nooksack River in Acme (please note some of the river is closed in the name of salmon protection). Near the Skagit-Whatcom line, those seeking lake recreation can also make their way to the southern area of Lake Whatcom.
During the drive, the farmland is quite beautiful. This valley is home to many small-scale farms, homesteads and dairies. You will not see big signs for many farms, but they are there, growing. Local growers include Sunseed Farm, the certified organic farm that offers a wide variety of plant starts, fruits and vegetables (find them at the Bellingham Farmers Market or co-ops and other locations in Whatcom and Skagit), as well as Osprey Hill Farm (a vendor at the Bellingham Farmers Market) and Moondance Farm (a vendor at the Anacortes Farmers Market). There are a number of dairy farms that are being worked by families for several generations. In addition, Twin Sisters Mushroom Farm near Acme offers kits, compost and marinated mushrooms, selling in Whatcom and Skagit.
One sign you will see in the Acme area is for Mama’s Garden, a farmstand operated by four moms committed to growing good food. They have a variety of vegetables, fruits, flowers, and eggs.
For those seeking the summer scents of lavendar, head on down Rutsatz Road to RiverScent Farm & Ka-Bloom Nursery, where they offer several varieties of lavendar, as well as herbs, plants, flowers and vegetables. Cut lavender is available in fresh or dried bundles or in bulk.
Moon Valley Honey, which offers honey, beauty and body products, is based on Highway 9, north of Acme.
As you head north into tiny Van Zandt, stop at Everybody’s Store (over 100 years old), known for its eclectic mix of all things – gifts, sandwiches, lots of cheese, wine, and so much more. The store also has its own garden.
The Van Zandt Community Hall, across the way from Everybody’s Store, is offering a monthly farmer’s and crafters market (there are a number of artisans and crafters in the area).
This area is also home to a herd of elk, and on a lucky day, you’ll see them grazing.
When it comes holiday time, nearby Christmas tree farms include Sisters Tree Farm and Alpine Meadows.
For more information about other folks in the South Fork Valley, talk to the locals! Local restaurants in the Acme area are the Blue Mountain Grill and Acme Cafe, and the  two stores are Everybody’s Store and Acme General Store.

Mike Conway hits the road on weekends, mainly on two-lane highways. Sometimes, in his excitement, he forgets to take his camera.I like two-lane highways.

For more details
Following is contact information for some area farms and businesses:
• Everybody’s Store: 5465 Potter Road, Deming, (360) 592-2297, www.everybodys.com,
• Osprey Hill Farm: (360) 595-9134, ospreyhillfarm@yahoo.com
• Mama’s Garden: 2600 Valley Highway, (360) 595-2210, cook81900@yahoo.com
• Moon Valley Honey:  (360) 595-0500, moonvalleyhoney.com
• Moondance Farm: (360) 595-0155, billyandnicole@moondancefarm.net
• RiverScent Farm & KaBloom Nursery: (360) 592-3116
• Sunseed Farm: (360) 920-8088,  sunseedfarm.com
• Twin Sisters Mushroom Farm: twinsistersmushroomfarm.com,
(360) 595-2979

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