Nestled in the South Fork Valley on Highway 9, you’ll find Mama’s Garden, a unique farm stand offering local produce, meats, honey, flowers, maple syrup, and more to their community. At the heart of Mama’s Garden is a deep commitment to integrity, quality, and care. 

As Renee Kalsbeek, one of the “mamas” who own and farm at Mama’s Garden, says, “We have maintained core values of trust and honesty, as you see when you visit the farm stand. We still operate the stand using the honor system and that goes both ways – our customers get to know us and see us working the fields every single day and trust that we are growing great food.”

Mama’s Garden began over 15 years ago over a cup of tea. Kim Cook, a current “mama”, and the original owners were having tea while their little ones played. All of them were just starting their families and looking to do something outside of the home that the children could also be involved with. Renee recalls, “Two of the four original mamas had agricultural backgrounds and dreamed up having a little garden where they could grow some pumpkins, corn, and a few vegetables for the community. Flash forward and Mama’s Garden has evolved – Kim is an original mama, along with myself and Kelly, Kim’s sisters. 

The customers who love Mama’s Garden are, in a sense, an extension of the family. “We have always wanted our customers to feel part of the farm and connected to what we’re doing,” Renee says. “Through the years we’ve grown by adding Certified Organic Blueberries, pasture-raised USDA beef by the cut, local honey, fresh cut flowers, dairy products, and other items from neighboring farms.”

Mama’s Garden exemplifies the food and farming culture of the Pacific Northwest, and Whatcom County in particular. Renee shares, “The farmers of Whatcom County are hard-working families that care deeply about the land and waters that provide food. We still live in an area where many farms are family-owned and feel a responsibility to pass on knowledge to family or young farmers. Our area is some of the most fertile farmland in the state and the farmers here pour their hearts into producing healthy foods that we eat every day. At the end of the day, it’s all about perseverance and lots of hard work.”

That perseverance and hard work has yielded a farm stand that is positively bursting with the abundance of Whatcom County. Every day, the Mama’s Garden crew collects fresh eggs from their 300+ chickens – so you’re always getting the freshest egg. They sell Big Leaf Maple Syrup made from the trees on their property, harvest fresh vegetables from the garden, in addition to working with other farms to bring local honey, raw milk, local yogurt, cheese, hot sauces, and ferments to the farm stand. As Renee sums up, “Everything is taste-tested, and we love everything that we sell in the stand!” 

Renee and her sister in laws find the work they do deeply rewarding. “It’s always an incredible feeling to see something through,” Renee shares. “When our season is in full swing, we look at the garden in full bloom and see the farm stand full of fresh produce and we have these brief moments of saying, ‘We did this!’”

In addition to the satisfaction of a job well done, there’s also the reward that comes from feeding their community. “It’s humbling to know that folks choose to come out to our stand to buy the things we’ve grown,” Renee says. “It makes our day when we interact with our customers and hear their appreciation for what we’re doing. This helps guide and inspire us, knowing that we’re on the right path in life. We’ve made so many new friends through Mama’s Garden. Our customers are more than just customers shopping at the stand. We’ve been blessed over the years to get to know so many of them personally.” 

These connections grow even stronger when the next generation is included. Renee shares, “My favorite thing is to see kids at the farm lighting up over the chickens or the cows. This is when I love to show and talk about farming. We’re passionate about showing kids where their food comes from and how it’s grown. You see a light bulb go on in their head when they pull a carrot out of the ground or taste blueberries that they picked!” 

Mama’s Garden is a farm stand that not only nourishes their community, but also seeks to grow and evolve to meet the needs of a changing food system. “One dream we’re completing is a new cold stage facility that’s currently under construction,” Renee explains. “This is a huge infrastructure expansion that will give us space to extend our season and offer different fruits, vegetables, and meat.”

Renee knows just how important community is when it comes to running a farm stand like Mama’s Garden. “We’re so grateful for our customers and partnering farmers in the area,” she says. “Without the love and support from so many, we wouldn’t be where we are today!”

Visit Mama’s Garden to explore this special space that’s been so loved and tended over the years. Be sure to stop by on the Farm to Table Trails as part of the Food for You on Route 542 Loop – you can check in and win prizes all while supporting this incredible local business! 

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