Hempler’s Food Group For the Win!
Compassionate, Collaborative Action
I have been working hard to retrain my brain to accept what is, celebrate what should be celebrated and remain steadfast in my hope. Thankfully, the work that has been my profession over the past two and a half years provides me daily examples of people being good humans, doing what they can to take care of themselves, their families, their friends and their communities large and small.
Nearly 5,000 Lbs of Berries Recovered
Farmer toolkit for direct sales and pickup sites
We’re acutely aware that getting products to market is challenging now more than ever and we want to help. We’ve been in touch with a number of food delivery businesses and have compiled a list of options for 1) opportunities to sell your products through an aggregated delivery service and 2) share business contact information […]
Toolkit for Hosting a Farm Drop Site
How businesses can provide fresh farm products to the community.
COVID-19 Update from Derek, Executive Director of Sustainable Connections
Business Support for Impacts of COVID-19
7 Things You Can Do to Support Local Businesses Right Now
Watch Your Waste
Recycling markets are in the tank and we and we continue to generate lots and lots of trash. Where are the bright spots you ask? Well, I have noticed as of late we are finally having real conversation about waste reduction, single use plastics, surplus food recovery and extended producer responsibility. These conversations are happening with an increased frequency and vigor and in many cases are going beyond just talk. Numerous acts of legislation are in the works that will undoubtedly make positive impacts whether it is single use plastic bans or direct and cooperative efforts from governmental agencies to encourage food producers to donate surplus foods.
By Mark Peterson We’ve all heard the news reports that recycling is dead, not sustainable and the myriad of other reasons to justify why we should all feel better about just throwing all our stuff in the landfill bin. There is definitely some truth in these reports about the recycling conundrum we find ourselves in. […]
Food to Bank On
Feeding the Community for 16 Years By Alex Smith January 2020 If you’ve been paying attention for the past 20 years or so, you may have noticed a trend in how people view food. Professional chefs and food critics are increasingly becoming mainstream celebrities, recipe sites and food blogs abound, and you may even have […]
Foxes in the Hen House
By Mark Peterson It is no secret that we are being overrun by the ever increasing amount of plastic that deluges us every day. Just about everything we use in our modern society has some sort of plastic component to it. Even our glass bottle with a metal lid has the plastic tamper proof shrink […]
Bellingham Cider Company – What’s in a Name
What’s in a Name By Maressa Valliant You can walk into Bellingham Cider Company at any time during business hours, and you’ll have a knowing thought—this is where the locals go. It’s one of those places that locals bring their friends and family to make a good impression and make sure everyone in a varied […]
Good Things Come In… By Maressa Valliant November 2019 Finish this sentence: Good Things come in ___________. Maybe your mind went with: “small packages”, “pairs”, or “threes”. Regardless, in the case of this local business, all of you are correct, AND we’d like to add another adage – “Good things come in BOWLS!” I mean, […]
Healing people and the planet By Alex Smith November 2019 It’s rare that a delicious food can have a positive impact on the environment. As a conscientious consumer, we try to minimize the environmental impact of the food we eat. Tasty, nutritious food that positively impacts the ecosystem is a holy grail of sorts. Salmon […]
By Mark Peterson Sustainability pursuits don’t exist in vacuum and despite our hopes and dreams they are still subject to Newton’s 3rd law of Physics. We sometimes refer to this law loosely as action-reaction, where the force exerted is the action and the force experienced as a consequence is the reaction. In many cases the […]
Ashes to Ashes
In our culture we often shy away from conversations around death and generally don’t talk about it at all, let alone the impacts related to how we end up at our final resting place. In a traditional burial many resources are utilized including reinforced concrete, embalming fluids, steel and hardwoods for caskets and cremation requires fossil fuels. Green burial is part of an ecological restoration and the process and body become a vehicle for restoring a natural ecosystem.
Constant improvement in harmony with nature By Alex Smith The Japanese language has a concept called “Kaizen”. This roughly translates as “continuous improvement.” It’s a concept often used in business to describe ways of making processes more efficient. Companies like Toyota have used this principle to reduce costs and create better products that they can […]
Cloud Mountain Farm Center
Growing Community Through Education By Alex Smith September 2019 We all know that good food is important. Eating well is one of the most beneficial things you can do for general wellbeing. We don’t all eat well all the time, though. There are a number of reasons why, but in many cases it’s simply because we don’t […]
Late to the Party
These and other like-minded businesses found a way to stay true to their values and find success and profit in spite of market forces perpetuated by the very same Business Round Table who now has had a change of heart. How long this change of heart will last, I’m not sure anyone really knows. Shareholders are already starting to revolt.
The Future of Food Recovery
Thanks to the participating businesses, volunteers and agencies receiving the food we have recovered over 51,000 pounds of food, with over 47,000 pounds of that food redistributed to hunger relief agencies, who in turn served over 39,000 meals to members of our community experiencing hunger insecurity. That is no small feat!
Where is Your Passion?
If reducing food waste, providing over 30,000 meals to in-need community members, helping business reduce their waste and save tens of thousands of dollars and public education about waste reduction and sustainability is your passion, now is your chance to get in the door.
Building community one bite at a time By Alex Smith July 2019 The concept of “fast casual” is one that’s gaining momentum, and for good reason. Getting high quality food cooked right in front of you and ready to eat in minutes satisfies a unique place in answering the question “what do I want to […]
Abilitrek Launches Accessibility Certification Program
Help create a more accessible world By Kyann Flint June 2019 Established in 2016 by Daman Wandke, AbiliTrek is disability-owned and operated with the mission of improving accessibility so people can trek without boundaries. AbiliTrek offers a search and review platform and they consult on website and app accessibility, onsite accessibility, and speaking/training workshops. […]
The Story of the Butterfly By: Ruby Dombek With the sun glistening off Mount Baker in the distance, it is difficult to imagine a more beautiful place to spend one’s day farming. Lis and Joaquin’s 8.5 acres in Everson, WA are some of the most picturesque I have ever seen. The pride and love they […]
Home Farm UPick & Events
Daniel Burdick grew up on a farm in Connecticut and has always wanted to return to his roots. Starting a farm was a chance to reconnect to the land and the community. He wants people to know that his family values transparency with community above all else, noting that “our farm is their farm.”
Pride in Learning
This in turn reinvigorates me in all aspects of the Toward Zero Waste work we do at Sustainable Connections including the stinky and slightly gross waste audits.
Capture the bounty of the Summer and meet your local farmers! Summer is nearly here and with that comes the bounty of local farms! Farmers markets are a great way to get your hands on local produce, meat, eggs, and craft goods, as well as meet the people growing your food. We’re incredibly lucky to […]
Pure Bliss Desserts
Pure Bliss Desserts is giving a wonderful gift to the community: tasty treats made with integrity and love.
Hoist Your Glass!
Times like these, when it seems like the solutions and motivations to make changes are slim, are exactly when awards and recognition help keep us keeping on. I do my best to be a realist and also an optimist, and I still hold out hope that we can do better.
Oak Meadows Farm
Healing the soil with happy animals By Alex Smith May 2019 One of the top challenges you’ll hear about in agriculture, and for our world, is topsoil. This component of the Earth enables essentially all terrestrial plant life to exist. And without plant life, humans and other animals would have a hard time surviving. […]
How is a nun from the 1880s and Bellingham’s local food scene connected? We’ll tell ya! Click through to learn how PeaceHealth set the stage for taking care of overall community health and wellbeing, and what that means for some of our local farmers today.
Bellingham Technical College
Let Your Tastebuds Travel the World with BTC Culinary Students! BTC is a Bellingham gem that is serving affordable and delicious local fare for a good cause.
Twin Cedars Farm
Meet Twin Cedars Farm, totally dedicated to sustainable agriculture and growing delicious local food. “We start with the seeds, and decide what to grow based on flavor and cooking performance,” he says. “From there it’s a matter of making sure the soil has the right nutrients to produce a good final product…”
Make Your Shot Count!
By Mark Peterson It’s no secret that I get a lot of joy out of the game of soccer. There are so many facets to the “beautiful game” that keep me enthralled as a referee, a soccer parent, and fan. I love the fluidity of the game that flows with relatively few stops in play […]
Lost Giants Cider Co.
For the love of all things Bellingham… you need to get to know Lost Giants Cider Co. Pull up a chair and get to know friends and co-owners Chris Noskoff, Brad Wilske, and Abe Ebert.
2018 Sustainability Champion Lifetime Achievement Award
Sue Sharpe The Lifetime Achievement award is given to a local business leader that has taken action to strengthen our community while also representing the principles Sustainable Connections stands for. Sue Sharpe has been an inspiring leader and has committed her career towards bettering the health of residents across Whatcom County. Her extensive career includes […]
2018 Sustainable Business Development Sustainability Champion
Mount Baker Care Center has been early adopters of many sustainability practices. From local purchasing to waste reduction they do it all. They currently divert over 80% of their waste from landfill and were the first participant in our Food Recovery Initiative!
2018 Green Building & Smart Growth Sustainability Champion
RMC Architects are strong supporters of affordable housing for all, and key collaborators for a variety of important housing projects. They are dedicated to helping create thriving local communities right here in Whatcom County.
2018 Energy Efficiency & Renewables Sustainability Champion
CAZ goes above and beyond to make energy efficiency a reality for homeowners and businesses. They also prioritize meaningful employment (employees are some of the highest paid in the industry!).
2018 Think Local First Sustainability Champion
Not only does ideal support local artists and craftspeople but they collaborate with a variety of local businesses, nonprofits, and students. They are dedicated sustainability stewards and are active participants in the Toward Zero Waste program.
2018 Food & Farming Sustainability Champion
Owners Azizi & Chris say that “from seed to plate” is a motto that encompasses both their history as food producers and their belief that understanding and supporting local food systems leads to a superior product. They are longtime local food buyers and champions!
Take Them Back!
Whatcom County just made a list that we can all be pretty proud of, and one in which the criteria is specifically prescribed (pun intended). Whatcom County is now the 10th location in the entire united states to have a Secure Medicine Return program. And it’s a big deal!
Meet Paellaworks, one of the best local catering businesses in Whatcom! Showcasing the best of PNW ingredients with this classic Spanish dish….
Grace Harbor Farms
The Lukens family didn’t start Grace Harbor Farms with the intention of growing a commercial business. Fast forward a generation and Tim and Grace’s son, David, has helped grow the business into a dairy, creamery, and distributor that creates wholesome and natural products like kefir, yogurt, and milk!
Predictions and Inspirations!
No doubt there are plenty of dire predictions to go around but for my opening blog post of 2019 I’m going do my best to keep it a bit more real and share a few of the more inspiring predictions and trends I’m hoping take hold.
Gothberg Farms has proven to be one of the best goat cheese makers in the region, with their products highly sought after across the Pacific Northwest. Get to know this unique handcrafted artisan creamery!
Flying Bird Botanicals
Every time you brew a cup of tea, you promote peace and goodwill in your life and around the world. Because the integrity of the product benefits all the lives that have participated in bringing you a quality cup of tea. Meet Flying Bird Botanicals and the wonder woman behind it: Scout Erling.
By Mark Peterson “Wow.” Yes, that is what I said to myself as I have started to reflect a bit more intently on the occurrences of 2018. The turn of the seasons and the holidays ahead provide me an annual opportunity to take stock of the past 12 months and be thankful and enjoy the […]
Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants
Over 50 years of food and wine experience By Liz Hansen December 2018 If you’re anything like me, buying a bottle of wine for a special occasion consists of deliberating over the prettiest bottle on the sale rack. As you can imagine, I often get stuck with my sub-par and uncomplimentary bottle of wine […]
Free Range Flowers
Local flowers are just as beneficial as your local foods and other goods. Celeste Monke, farmer, florist, and owner of Free Range Flowers, is here to tell us exactly why local flowers are so important!
Two Nonprofits Join Forces to Strengthen Local Food Systems
Making a Meal of It
This past month I had the distinct pleasure of working with multiple groups and stellar individuals to support a community meal, while showcasing the recovered foods and highlighting the businesses supporting the Food Recovery Initiative. Together, around a table at the Van Zandt Community Center, a plan was hatched to test the feasibility of feeding 100 people with recovered foods.
MIX employees are knowledgeable, cheery, and helpful! Abundantly Delicious By Alex Smith November 2018 It’s rare these days to find something that truly defies our expectations. We’ve been exploring the edges of absurdity for so long that things we might have once thought crazy have become normal and even expected. Food is no exception, […]
Lummi Island Wild
Lummi Island Wild Marketing Manager Riley Starks, President Keith Carpenter, and General Manager Ian Kirouac Saving our oceans, one fish at a time By Liz Hansen November, 2018 Long, long ago, in the Salish Sea, the Lummi people devised ingenious methods to harvest wild salmon. Their methods were meant not only to respected the sacred […]
Wild Acres Farm
The Cost of a Local Chicken By Diana Meeks I held the largest pear I’ve ever seen in my life at Wild Acres Farm, just outside of Bellingham. It was, without exaggeration, half the size of my head. They really know how to grow them! But, Wild Acres doesn’t sell fruit; they raise chickens, […]
Grinding Gears and Shuttling Rubber
I should have known better than to sell Staci and Craig short! I was blown away with when I learned the lengths they have gone to reduce waste.
Big Love Juice
Big Love Juice is designed to satisfy the entire body, mind, and soul. From the simple delight of tasty food to the long-term satisfaction of health, vitality, and community, it’s the heartbeat that moves love through the community.
Food to Bank On Farmers Win Award, Program Now Accepting New Applications
Photo by FotoMataio Fotografia. 2018 Farm Fund Hootenanny Farmer Award winners! From left: New Farmer: Jen Finch & Colin Fischer, Wanderwood Farm. Innovator Farmer: Griffin Berger, Sauk Farm LLC. Bright Spot Farmer: Helen Solem, Sumas River Farm. Mentor Farmer: Geoff & Anna Martin, Osprey Hill Farm. Food to Bank On Farmers Win Award, Program Now Accepting New Applications […]
All Scrambled Up!
Honestly, my attitude about leftovers and what to do with them, especially as the third straight day of chili rolled around, hasn’t always been positive. I imagine those stuck in a room with me during this leftover stretch felt the same – hehe.
Tasca Del Tinto
Traditional Tapas with a Bellingham Bend By Alex Smith Tradition and innovation are constantly involved in a complicated dance. Classically trained chefs may thumb their noses at the idea of something like Thai-Italian fusion cuisine. On the other hand, the fusion chef may look at their classically-trained counterpart and see an antiquated concept; a […]
Sustainability Reporting Boosts Business Benefits
Kombucha Town, Samson Rope Technologies, and Mallard Ice Cream have completed a new sustainability reporting process and uncovered opportunities to improve business performance and our local community with the help of our Sustainable Business Development Program.
Twin Brook Creamery
high-quality is the 108th year Twin Brook has been raising, grazing, and milking cows in Lynden, WA. Learn more about this 5th generation dairy farm dedicated to sustainable stewardship of their land and high-quality care for their animals!
To help prevent my brain exploding from one more seemingly insurmountable global problem, I am instead reverting to my project management training and thinking in terms of a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. In the middle of the SWOT acronym is Opportunity, and in the case of wasted food, there is tons of opportunity–literally.
Meet this family run orchard in Ferndale. Cherries, apples, pear, and plums grown with care and a dedication to sustainability.
A beautiful mix of art, science, and a bit of magic By Alex Smith Wild fermentation is an intriguing term. Setting aside the fact that it could be a great name for a band or a party game, it turns out to be the source of some of humanity’s best creations. Fermentation is the […]
Building on Birchwood International Market Momentum!
Press Release Contact: Diana Meeks, Media & Communications Specialist Phone: (360) 647-7093 x110 E-mail: email@example.com FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Building on Birchwood International Market Momentum! BELLINGHAM, WA, July 5, 2018 | Sustainable Connections is calling the first-ever Birchwood International Market, held on June 29th, a great success and is now in the process of planning […]
A Couple of Hard Working Animal Lovers By Alex Smith We all have that one friend. You know who I’m talking about. The person whose relationship with their pets is so strong that you often have to clarify whether they’re telling a story about one of their children or one of their dogs. This person […]
A Full Heart
Who has inspired me the most isn’t the Executive Directors, the Food Service Managers or people like me managing programs; no it’s the kind souls behind the scenes quietly going about their business with care, commitment, and intention.
Greenest Blue Van Sparks Changes at Sustainable Connections
Contact: Amy Vergillo, Communication Manager Phone: (360) 647-7093 x105 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The Greenest Blue Van Sparks Changes at Sustainable Connections BELLINGHAM, WA, May 24, 2018 | Sustainable Connections announces the departure of longtime Energy Program Manager, Jeff Aslan, and the promotion of Rose Lathrop to Program Director. Jeff, who has been with […]
I imagine most of us at some point in our Toward Zero Waste journey have ended up standing in front of the waste bins wondering if what we have in our hands is truly recyclable – I mean it has a recycling symbol on it so it has to be right?!? From clamshell containers to compostable cups decisions of what goes where is confusing…you just don’t want to toss it out and instead you succumbed to, you guessed it – Wishful Recycling.
A Dreamland of Berries By Alex Smith June in Whatcom County is well known for its fickle nature. Warm, sunny days begging for shorts and sandals give way to chilly rains that remind us we live in a maritime climate. Regardless of this variation in weather, one thing is almost a certainty come June: […]
Three culinary queens Celebrating 30 years of southwest success! By Diana Meeks When she chose the restaurant’s name, Susan Albert didn’t know she was creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. When Pepper Sisters was created, it was named to pay homage to the most important ingredients in Southwestern cooking: red and green New Mexican chilies. Their […]
sweet treats & strong community By Diana Meeks Nancy Babick has raised two beautiful children and founded two successful businesses. She’s a talented cake artist who can also build gorgeous in-store displays (how awesome is that table display pictured below?!). From humble beginnings to talented entrepreneur, she is a modern day renaissance woman. […]
Rabbit Fields Farm
Connecting good people to good food By Alex Smith Food is unique in its ability to bring together people of all backgrounds. There’s something about eating that helps us overlook differences and recognize that on a deep level, we’re all just humans moving from one meal to the next. This concept of food bringing […]
Five Cheese Sandwiches
This quote from Albert Camus struck me – he wrote, “All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door.”
Keenan’s at the Pier
Casual, elegant…and damn delicious By Diana Meeks I have a terrible memory. It’s common for friends, family, even past boyfriends to ask – eyebrows held high, “how can you not remember that?!” Dates, places, and events slip into obscurity. Some, but not all. I remember the first time I ate at Keenan’s at the […]
Farm Fresh Workplaces Come to Life
Samson Rope connects the employees to local food One of the things we love most at Sustainable Connections is helping to make more local food connections. For the last 7 years, we have been connecting local employers with local farmers in the Farm Fresh Workplaces program, to get deliveries of farm-fresh produce straight from […]
Pollen Folly Farm
A passion for fighting food deserts By Alex Smith Next time you drive down Mt Baker Highway, I want you to try something. Take the time to notice and count the number of places you can buy fresh produce. I know, it’s hard to take your eyes off of the breathtaking views of the […]
The Rome Store
Farm to Table Food Without Any of the Fuss By Diana Meeks The Rome Store, on Mount Baker Highway, is more than a hundred years old. In 1915 the store was moved, atop giant rolling logs, from Goshen to its current location. It’s easy to imagine it as a bustling community hub, before Mount Baker Highway was paved, with all […]
Busting Waste With Beers!
n the beginning a massive beer party seemed like a daunting task and I had my doubts how we could make the Toward Zero Waste efforts a successful one. Events themselves pose additional challenges and each event has its own intricacies that complicate the process. When you combine hordes of people, music, food trucks, a festive atmosphere and a few adult beverages, at first one may think as I did, this could be a recipe for waste stream contamination disaster!
Viva Farms: Growing delicious food & Launching the next generation of farmers
By Alex Smith The farming lifestyle is an alluring one. Waking up with the sun, spending time outdoors, the independence of knowing that your food is coming from within walking distance – what’s not to love? Given this idyllic picture of the American farmer, it may seem strange that we’re simply running out of them. […]
30,000 Pounds of Food and 12,000 Meals
The recurring image of edible foods discarded into the compost bin or worse the landfill bin was constantly on my mind and a catalyst for a major initiative I was hoping someday Sustainable Connections as an organization could take on. Other local hunger relief organizations are working hard to collect and deliver non-perishable foods and redistribute them but where a large gap exists is prepared edible foods that need to be redistributed in a much shorter time frame.
Homeskillet: Wild, wonderful, and a little bit weird
By Diana Meeks If you don’t know these two, I’d like to warmly introduce you to Kirby and Tina White, owners of Homeskillet. Antartic dwellers, world explorers, artists, community builders, and comfort food extraordinaires. In 2012, they opened Homeskillet to instant fanfare–there’s been a line out the door since day one (seriously)! […]
Bellingham Finishes Third in Nationwide Competition for Innovative Energy Efficiency Solutions
By Mark Gardner, Legislative Analyst / December 18, 2017 The city of Bellingham tied for third place in the final round of the Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP), a two-year, nationwide competition involving 50 communities to rethink the way America’s small and medium-sized towns and cities use energy. In the final round, 10 top-performing […]
The second generation of Appel Farms ownership, from left to right: Rich and Ann Appel, and Ruth and John Appel The Fine Art of Farmstead Cheese By Alex Smith, February 2018 Take a moment to think about the word ‘values’. It’s come to be used in a number of ways and can invoke different ideas, […]
Dandelion Organic Delivery
The Dandelion Organic Delivery family, from left to right, Jonny, Thanos, Sotiri, and Maria Fresh & local, delivered right to your door By Diana Meeks, Feb 2018 Garlic parmesan shrimp scampi, veggie Thai curry with coconut rice, spicy buffalo wings and homemade ranch dipping sauce…scrolling through Pintrest feels exciting and wildly aspirational at the […]
Sustainability, Business and Community
The energy in the room was palpable and it was so inspiring to see the audience engaged and ready to take the next step in regards to measuring and improving their sustainability efforts. Businesses are thirsty for knowledge how they can be a more sustainable.
2018 Sustainability Champion Awards
Thank you to Julien Scherliss for these great photos Congrats to our 2018 Sustainability Champion Award Winners! Sustainable Connections awarded four Whatcom County businesses and two individuals Sustainability Champion Awards last Thursday for their deep commitment to making a positive impact locally. The Awards are an annual recognition of Sustainable Connections members who are leaders […]
Growing farmers, growing community
The Food to Bank on Program By Alex Smith How many farmers have you seen in a single room at once? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably between zero and two (unless you count the farmers market depot as a room). In fact, it’s really quite difficult to get a group of […]
Probably Shouldn’t Distillery
What Happens When you do it anyways By Alex Smith When advice comes from friends, conventional logic states that it’s a good idea to follow it. But sometimes we have a tendency to eschew the best intentions of our trusted companions. Sometimes there are good reasons for this insubordination. Other times, we just […]
Sea to Shore Seafood Co.
Meet Chelsea and Peter, a young couple that has committed themselves to sustainable fishing and getting you all freshest most delicious seafood possible!
Bellingham Pasta Co.
Fresh Pasta, Made Simply By Alex Smith When I think of the holiday season, my mind immediately turns to good food shared with good people and a healthy amount of laughter. So it was perfectly fitting that I had the chance to visit the home of Bellingham Pasta Co and the owner, Katie Hinton. […]
Serendipity As A Catalyst
This past summer Sustainable Connections hosted a workshop to educate restaurants and food-based businesses about ways they can reduce the amount of wasted food in their operations. One of the biggest myths we are working to overcome is that everything is hunky dory as long as we compost our wasted food. The facts remain […]
HIGH QUALITY PASTURED PORK FOR THE PUGET SOUND By Caitlin Singer With 13 years of combined farming experience, Katie Pencke and Matthew McDermott are practiced and accomplished farmers. From their roots in educational agriculture, they’re currently transitioning into providing local, organically-managed, pasture-raised pork. The term “alluvial” describes the fan-shaped deposits of soil at the […]
The Local: Drink, Eat, and Be Local
The No Good, Very Bad Week In Food Waste
Along with active kids come packed schedules with varying soccer practice times and after school commitments and when combined with a few late nights of work on the parent side and you have a recipe for wasted food.
Cedarville Farm: Growing Organically Since 1989
My Housing Story
Everyone has a housing story. Whether you’ve told it to many people or you’ve kept it private, there is likely a story about where you live now and how you got there. Maybe it’s a feel good story that you are proud of or maybe it’s one you rather wouldn’t share. If you want your […]