Sustainable Connections and Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism are hosting a guided farm tour this summer to inform local service-industry professionals about local agritourism hot spots.
“We want our locals to be the experts or ‘local food ambassadors’ for all of the scrumptious offerings Whatcom County has to offer,” said Sara Southerland, Sustainable Connections’ food and farming outreach coordinator, in a press release. “By familiarizing the folks who most directly interact with visitors with these unique and delicious farm experiences, they can provide genuine recommendations for connecting visitors with the food and farm gems we have here.”
The tour will include an insiders’ view of Bellingham’s VIS Seafoods, a stroll through apple orchards at BelleWood Acres (who are also opening a new distillery halfway between Bellingham and Lynden this summer), a cheese sampling and tour at Appel Farms near Ferndale, a stop at Lone Boot Buffalo Ranch with all sorts of bison products in Ferndale and then back to Bellingham for a wine tasting at Vartanyan Estate Winery, along with lunch on the green in Fairhaven with vendors at the Wednesday Bellingham Farmers Market.
Tourism dollars bring in approximately $555.4 million a year to Whatcom County.
“If we can get visitors to stay another night or for one more meal or make a return visit, then we are building our local economy,” says Jacqueline Cartier, marketing director at Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism.
Cartier said travelers want real and authentic immersion experiences now more than ever.
“Culinary agritourism is especially hot right now,” Cartier said. “People want to connect to the place they are visiting, and what better way to make those ties through something they are going to do three meals a day?”
The Familarization “Fam” Tour will also promote the use of new sample self-guided itineraries for a Fall Farm Tour and Bellingham Urban Eats Tour, as well as the use of the “Whatcom Food & Farm Finder,” a comprehensive guide and map to local food, published each year by Sustainable Connections.
“These new resources are great tools for residents and visitors alike to find the local farm products they’re seeking, locate restaurants that source from local farms and enjoy a leisure day visiting farms and wineries throughout the county,” Southerland said.