The delicious and tasty raspberry is part of the Rose family (genus Rubus) and has been around since Medieval Times. These berries come in three colors black, gold, and red which are most commonly recognized. Though this berry comes from the same family as blackberries; they are distinct in their flavor. Raspberries produce a sweet and tart taste to the palate. What was initially limited to the areas of Asia Minor and North America, the raspberry was not recognized as a fruit. Used by primarily the rich in various work areas to complete projects (building items in the home,) as well as notably highlighting print on manuscripts, painting and medicinal purposes, it was not until King Edward called for the cultivation of berries that another useful value came to the forefront. By the eighteenth century the practice of berry cultivation became widely spread throughout Europe. Native Americans began eating berries, and soon settlers traveling to America began to preserve berries and bring them on trips after discovering the ease at which this was possible. George Washington began the practice of cultivating berries in his gardens located in Mount Vernon, Washington and soon the practice began to spread worldwide.
Located approximately 1.5 hours north of downtown Seattle, along the Interstate 5 corridor sits beautiful Whatcom County. A pleasant drive along the way will soon grace your sight with picturesque blue skies, much open space, plentiful greenery and acreage of farmland and animals enjoying the freedom available. Lingering spring, mild summers, and a basic year round cool climate with much rain make this the ideal location for berry growth, since raspberries can be harvested from the beginning of spring through the fall. A good row or hill of raspberries can reproduce for up to ten years before needing to be replanted. The fabulous farmlands of Whatcom County is the ideal setting for raspberry growth and has succeeded in now producing 95 percent of the raspberries in the United States. More than 20 varieties can be found in this area (there are over 200 species of raspberries.)
Raspberry plants now are recognized in several forms including fresh and dried and known for many uses such as gastric ailments, sorethroats, and are recognized for cardiovascular improvement due to the known antioxidants it contains. This delicious fruit is also widely found in pies, jams and on a variety of desserts.
Whatcom County berry farmers sell their products to large processors such as Smucker’s and Ocean Spray who use the berries in jams and juices. The year 2009 was a record breaking year for raspberry growth, and 2010 showcases the production of 53.7 pounds of these delicious berries.Currently 120,000 acres of farmland are in production in Whatcom county, with 6,000 acres being in raspberry production. This has proven to be a financially rewarding area of growth world wide. With the farming success widely recognized, land in this area is much sought after for production. The average cost is $14,000 per acre. Costs for this same amount of acreage has been known to cost between $30,000-$60,000 in Canada, which is approximately an hour north on the Interstate 5 corridor. Affordability of quality land is extrememly to farmers, especially when the end product can provide a large, delicious basket of raspberries for as little as $4.00 for customers.
While tourism continues to increase and the desire for raspberries continues to cause individuals to flock to Whatcom county, farms such as: McPhail Berry Farm, Boxx Fruit and Vegetable Farm, and Barbie’s Berries are three popular farms waiting to fill the mouths of visitors with fresh farm grown treats. The taste is what continues to causes thousands of individuals to race to the county year round. During the Raspberry Festival which is held annually during the third week of July, tourism is at an all time high. These talented farmers have proven that what was once believed to be useless land because of excess stump growth truly has the proper balance of soil, percipitation, and farmers willing to work together to create the production of a crop that is loved, appreciated and desired worldwide.