This year, there have been fewer opportunities to appreciate the beauty of spring, with many trails and forests closed and family outings confined to the grocery store. That’s why Eric Abel, president of Bellewood Farms, is opening the orchard’s gravel roads to the public May 2 and 3, and encouraging Whatcom County residents to take a free drive through the trees to see the apple blossoms in full bloom.
“We see it as a rite of passage for Spring,” he reflected. “Things have been kind of dark right now, and this is a chance to come out and see something new and fresh.”
Signage will direct drivers between the orchard rows, where some 21 varieties of apples will be full of white and pink blossoms. Kids will receive a bingo card so they check off animals they see along the way, and receive a free gift at the end of the drive.
Visitors who want to browse in the farm store can purchase Bellewood’s hand sanitizer, its tantalizing selection of sweet and savory pies, soups, chile and cinnamon buns, and distillery products including aged gin, coffee liqueur or cinnamon vodka. Those who are more comfortable calling ahead and placing an order to-go can pick up their pies at the tail end of the blossom drive-through.
Abel, a California transplant who took ownership of the farm with his wife and son’s family two years ago, says the pandemic has forced his team to become more creative. “We learn to adapt during a struggle like this,” he said. “After all, when you confront a wall, you can either stand and look at it or figure out a way to get around it.”
His was one of the first local businesses to put his distillery to work producing hand sanitizer, 1,000 gallons of which were donated to locals and various organizations. It’s now on sale for $2.95 per bottle and Abel has plans to continue with a line of personal care products that will include lip balm and soap in the coming months.
With gorgeous views of the snow-capped mountains and row upon row of blossoming apple trees, a drive through the orchards is just the tonic to lift the spirits, and a reminder that this stage, too, shall pass. Abel said the orchard roads can accommodate any size vehicles and arrows will direct cars which way to go. Budget 20 minutes for the drive and have a camera at-the-ready. Those blossoms are a promise of the light coming at the end of this dark tunnel. And there’s never been a better time to eat pie.