Cloud Mountain Farm Center, a nonprofit community farm and education center in Everson, has created a new blog to give readers insight into local food production, market farming, field trials and research, propagation, retail nursery operations, as well as lessons from the perspective of farm interns.
One of the blog’s first posts features a recent grant the nonprofit received from the Community Food Co-op in Bellingham to run trials on growing and propagating organic strawberries, in hopes of providing Whatcom County farmers with a source of local strawberry plugs.
More information on the grant is provided courtesy of Cloud Mountain Farm Center:
In trials by Washington State University and Cornell University, fall-planted strawberry plugs — small plants with roots and soil intact, planted in plastic cells — had higher yields of larger strawberries than bare-root strawberries planted in spring, the customary season for bare-root planting. While bare-root strawberries grow into healthy plants, their yields can be 20 percent less with smaller-sized fruit than plants started from plugs in the fall. Yet, the cost of shipping plugs from the East Coast, plus the cost of any losses incurred to the plants in transit, can make plug prices nearly three times greater than the cost of bare-root plants purchased locally.
Cloud Mountain is working with several varieties of day-neutral strawberries, which are not affected by amount of daylight they receive, a benefit during the short days of winter. They produce fruit over a longer period of time, from late spring through fall, with the potential to yield a greater income to farmers than June-bearing plants.
“The Co-op Farm Fund is excited that local farms will be able to benefit from the development of local, organic strawberry plugs. Strawberries are one of the highlights of our Whatcom County agriculture and a healthy and delicious local treat to look forward to every year,” said Farm Fund administrator Jean Rogers. Community Food Co-op’s Farm Fund supports innovative projects that strengthen local, sustainable agriculture and Whatcom County’s local food system.