FERNDALE, Wash. -- A Ferndale farm has gone above and beyond to assist the Bellingham Food Bank for years. Boxx Berry Farms donates acres of their property to the food bank’s gleaning project, allowing the food bank access to fresh produce.
“Bellingham Food Bank's agricultural programs really got started about 10 years ago when we inherited a gleaning project,” said Max Morage, special projects coordinator with the Bellingham Food Bank. “What we do with the gleaning project is we harvest food that would otherwise go to waste. So we want those apples. We want those carrots. We want anything that would serve families in Whatcom County.”
“Today, we were here to harvest some potatoes that we had that were excess to us,” Mike Boxx, owner of Boxx Berry Farm said. “We have the ability to grow quite a bit of produce.”
Boxx approached the food bank years ago with an excess amount of corn. Morage gathered a crew to go harvest the acre of corn.
“Mike felt great,” Morage said. “He donated five bins of corn that would get shared all throughout Whatcom County and we were thrilled because we developed a relationship directly with a local farm.”
Boxx says farmers are working hard to create a high-quality product, so anytime there is an excess, the food bank is getting that high-quality product.
Eliza Andrews, the small potato gleaning coordinator at the Bellingham Food Bank, says that it’s important for the food bank to have access to fresh produce.
“The Bellingham Food Bank is providing a service to people who use the food bank and we as the gleaning are providing a service to the farmer when we come to the farm to glean this product,” Andrews said. “If you could think of it in that way as a service, we're here pulling food from your field that you're not going to use and that it can be used somewhere else and that is pretty great. Those are the kind of services that we can provide so we both benefit. I get to go back to the food bank with all this delicious fresh product that was picked hours ago. I mean fresh is one thing, and then hours fresh is pretty cool.”
Morage says the Bellingham Food Bank’s relationships with farmers is important to the food bank.
“Working directly with farms to me feels a lot like we're connecting pieces of the food system together in a way that otherwise wouldn't happen,” he said.
He says farmers don’t want to see their food go to waste.
“Farmers who have spent an entire year planting, tending, watering, harvesting, looking for a market -- they don't wanna see food go to waste,” Morage said. “They got into farming because they like food and they like feeding people. Bellingham Food Bank depends on donations that organizations, like farms in our community, make and having a really strong group of those organizations that know each other and know what each other is doing is vital to the work that we do.”
SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- J&K Dairy in Sunnyside, Wash. is using worms to help clean and recycle their waste on their farm.
They have brought in the Biofiltro system to their farm to help with cleaning their waste and creating clean water.
“The Biofiltro beta system takes anaerobic water cleans it up with aerobic treatment and eliminates a bunch of the potential liability associated with it,” said Russ Davis with Organix. “For example, odor, methane, and loose nitrogen. And, it converts all of those things into things the plants can use and reduces those potential contaminants by about 90%.”
The system uses worms to naturally filter the water.
“So the worms are capable of doing what worms were built to do, which is to clean the ground or in this case, clean the water up,” Davis said. “So that we can produce as much clean water as a farm can use.”
“The idea behind the Biofiltro is to clean the water up for the dairy farmer so they are able to utilize their water in a better fashion.” Davis said. “And hopefully create some sort of revenue benefit as well.”
Matias Sjogren with Biofiltro says that within 4 hours of the water entering the system, it leaves clean.
“So basically, we are transforming a liquid waste, to a high quality water for irrigation,” Sjorgren said. “With this system we are taking out the environmental, greenhouse gases impact that they have right now.”
Jason Sheehan with J&K Dairy says it’s common for farmers to try new things for sustainability.
“I think the biggest thing is that we want to show that dairyman are innovators and are always trying new things, trying to get better at what they do,” Sheehan said.
“Dairymen, by nature, are environmentalists,” Davis said. “Probably the best recycling machine out there. We like the story that cows can take food that people can’t eat, for example alfalfa and corn stalks -- what we consider waste, and they turn that into something that can be utilized for humans.”
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REAL Environmental Action & Leadership is an effort by Whatcom Family Farmers - Education to help the greater Whatcom County community work together to continually improve environmental practices, and for increased awareness of the family farming community’s Real Environmental Action and Leadership. Whatcom Family Farmers - Education is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.