Tiffany Bell, in her own words, “does a little bit of everything.” She’s a farmer, mother, wife, soup-maker, and an advocate to get your mammogram. She and her husband own and run Ten Fold Farm, an 8.9-acre farm right on the outskirts of Bellingham, Washington. Ten Fold’s delicious meat, eggs, and vegetables are all produced on this Certified Naturally Grown, regenerative, homestead model farm.
What does all that mean? It means that Ten Fold Farm prioritizes sustainability, quality, and providing healthy, nourishing food to their customers and community. Their animals produce the compost, the compost feeds the garden, and the garden feeds… us! Tiffany and her family also plant strategically to support insects, pollinators, and native plants.
And while Ten Fold Farm is firmly rooted in the local food and farming community, Tiffany’s farming journey began far from the Pacific Northwest. “I was stationed in Naples, Italy,” Tiffany recalls. “The house we were renting was owned by a farmer. My kids were really little, between one and four years old. The farmer who owned our property watched our kids while he was working, and he had them out planting a little garden in the fields. I would pick up my kids and help them. What started as a 10’ x 10’ garden in their field became farming our own one-acre parcel of land.”
That care and passion show in the food that Ten Fold Farm sells and shares. Ten Fold Farm produce and products are available at the Wednesday and Saturday Bellingham Farmers Markets, as well as the Barkley Market. They use the wholesale distributor Puget Sound Food Hub to get fresh local food to grocery stores, restaurants, and other businesses.
Tiffany notes that current events also underscore the importance of local food and farming. “It’s been rewarding to get to work with grocery stores and local businesses so that they use local food. With how things have been going with Covid and scarcity, having a secure food source in your local area is going to become more important.” To get fresh food to those of all income levels, Ten Fold Farm runs a unique CSA program. CSA members pay weekly, instead of a large sum upfront, and can take weeks off if they’re sick or out of town. It’s all available on their online store – check it out here. They deliver to all of Whatcom County and do farm pick-up, all no-contact.
That no-contact policy originated with Covid, but has taken on extra importance with Tiffany’s recent diagnosis of breast cancer. “I went in for my yearly wellness exam, and my doctor told me I qualified for getting a mammogram. Before, I thought you had to be 50, but in recent years they’ve changed it to 40. I was 41 and signed myself up, back at the beginning of November. A couple of days later, they found something suspicious, and I went in for a second mammogram. Because of a family history of breast and ovarian cancer, I was a little apprehensive, but thought it was just routine. After my second mammogram, it was definitely suspicious, so I was scheduled for a biopsy. At the biopsy, they took a couple of samples, and the room got really, really quiet. That’s when I knew something was wrong.”
When the biopsy came back positive for cancer, Tiffany quickly was referred to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for treatment. Her cancer was growing fast and was aggressive; during the biopsy it was 4 mm, and three weeks later, when she had surgery, it was 24 mm. That surgery was a double mastectomy with lymph node removal. “I’m considered NED, no evidence of disease,” Tiffany explains. “They caught it in time.”
Tiffany will be on a weight restriction for the rest of the year, which means she can only lift 20 pounds. For a farmer who’s used to lifting 50-pound boxes of veggies, the restriction changes things. Luckily, Tiffany has a family and community that are more than eager to help out.
“I’ve had a lot of support from our CSA and farmers market customers,” she says. “One of the farms we mentor, Silver Creek Farm, has been checking in on us. My husband has taken off the past couple of months to focus on the farm work I wasn’t able to do.”
But Tiffany wants to make sure that Ten Fold Farm’s food gets into the hands of everybody, not just those who can afford it. Ten Fold Farm does a lot of work with the Miracle Food Network and Birchwood Food Desert Fighters. They donate huge amounts of produce to the Bellingham Food Bank. “It’s always been important to us to help people who don’t have access to food,” Tiffany says. “As a kid, I experienced food insecurity, and it stuck with me.”
Tiffany wants to emphasize the importance of getting mammograms for those who are eligible. That means women over 40 years of age. Mammograms may also be appropriate every year or every other year for transgender women age 40 or older who have had five or more years of hormone therapy.“I’ve had fifteen people in Whatcom County alone who have personally told me that my story is why they got their mammogram,” Tiffany says.
That’s not the only thing that Tiffany’s journey has inspired. This year, Ten Fold Farm is launching a frozen vegan soup line, frozen vegetable line, dehydrated vegetable line, and a cut vegetable line.
“One of the things I was told to do was to go on a low-inflammatory diet, cutting out sugar, red meat, preservatives, dairy, and alcohol,” Tiffany explains. “When we were deciding what we were going to produce, we were like, ‘Let’s make soup that I can eat during this process.’ That’s one of the reasons that our soup line is vegan and low-inflammatory. They’re all gluten-free and soy-free – and delicious.”
All the ingredients for the soups (like truffled potato leek, butternut and sage, curried pumpkin, and ratatouille) grow here in Whatcom County. Leftover produce that doesn’t go to the farmers market as well as “ugly” produce all find their culinary home in the delicious and nourishing soups. 10% of the profits will go to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
Tiffany, her family, and Ten Fold Farm are growing community with everything that they do: tending the land with regenerative practices; providing fresh produce and products to everyone; and inspiring us all to be sustainable, equitable, and courageous.