The Cloud Mountain Farm Center Team
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I was raised in research grain fields and greenhouses in the Willamette Valley, and have worked in food and farm systems in the Pacific Northwest for over a decade. My introduction to the Whatcom farm landscape was as a Political Science undergrad at Western Washington, where I worked with rural youth in food justice and land access. I professionalized my love of plants and soils with a B.S. in Crop Science/Agronomy from Oregon State, and have worked with just about everything you can grow in the northwest—fat lambs, cereal crops, seed crops, orchards, vineyards, you name it. My favorite part of working at CMFC is the staff; second favorite is getting to the Shipova and Peach Plums in the orchard first when they ripen. Outside of work I’m constantly flanked by three to four bad dogs who love mud and mischief and keep me exploring mountains, logging roads, rivers, or wherever weekends take us.
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I started in the intern program way back in 2013 and have held various positions around the farm since. During my time at CMFC I also co-owned Small Acres Farm for 4 years growing fruits, veggies, goats, and experience. In 2017 my husband and I moved to the South Fork Valley and started Monkey Puzzle Farm. We grow certified organic contract wholesale vegetable and flower seeds for organic seed companies. We have a smattering of fruit trees, shrubs, canes and vines- and goats to keep us and our growing family eating happily and well. I love working with a diversity of plants that show me new things every day.
Operations & Facilities Manager
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I became our Operations & Facilities Coordinator in October of 2016, after completing a season as a nursery-specific intern; I have been Operations & Facilities Manager since 2020. Previously, I worked as a laboratory and field research assistant for the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin Madison Peninsular Agricultural Research Station. Interns and incubators are my favorite aspect of working at CMFC; their enthusiasm and curiosity is contagious. The motivating energy radiating from fresh hands and minds is always worth the investment. I would rather be eating Mexican food while practicing Shinrin-yoku under the Oaks and Beeches of Washington Island, Wisconsin. My favorite thing to grow is a mustache.
I grew up in Northwest Indiana and discovered a love for agriculture while studying Sustainable Food Systems at Indiana University Bloomington. A desire to escape the harsh Midwestern winters that kept me from doing farm work year-round brought me to the Pacific Northwest in early 2020. My experience prior to Cloud Mountain Farm Center is in annual vegetable farming on a variety of scales ranging from 1 to 25 acres. My love for growing food sustainably is constantly reinforced by observing the diverse forms (insect and beyond) of life that show up on, in (for better or worse) and around the food I grow with my coworkers. Growing fruit is new to me but as an avid consumer of fruit I am eagerly awaiting my first harvest at Cloud Mountain. On and off farm I love being outside, rain or shine, and listening to podcasts and audiobooks about politics, philosophy and the paranormal. My partner and I live in Bellingham and spend most of our time walking our dog, eating and playing video games.
Fruit Program Manager
I started working here at Cloud Mountain in 2020 as an apprentice, after having previously farmed in Pennsylvania. While I’ve been farming for a handful of years now, I’ve been an avid fruit enthusiast since I was old enough to pluck a wild strawberry from the lawn. I have a particular passion for unique and obscure fruit varietals, and enjoy getting to share all of the fruits of our labors here at the farm with the surrounding Bellingham and greater Western, WA community. When I’m not in the fields pruning/picking/packing/cultivating, you might find me hiking, out with my camera, or enjoying a local Whatcom-brewed beer.
Perennial Crop Assistant
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I have formal training and experience as a teacher, life experience in both home and commercial orchards, and a lifelong passion for plants and gardening. I feel the most rewarding part of my job is educating people about perennial plants- what works where, how to grow both food for the family and plantings for the environment and for aesthetic and mental health. I’ve built a house, not knowing anything about construction. Almost four decades later, I still live in that house. I love trying to grow alpine plants, especially ones that are native to the North Cascades. Like most rock garden enthusiasts, it’s a case of “tried that, killed that”.
Nursery Retail Lead
I’ve been living in Bellingham since graduating from WWU with a degree in environmental science. My main passions as a student were working at the Outback Farm as the Permaculture Assistant Coordinator and studying terrestrial ecology. As an intern with Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group, I monitored riparian habitat restoration and helped run a native plant nursery. I also enjoy meteorology, gardening, and being outdoors. My favorite fruits are figs and quince! My goals are to engage people with perennial food systems, to learn as much as I can about plants, and maintain the beautiful landscape at CMFC.
Nursery Retail Assistant
My love of food systems and sustainable agriculture blossomed in 2017 while working and living on an ecological farm abroad. I became engrossed in all things farming and permaculture. I spent two formidable years on that farm, planting seeds and watching them and myself flourish and grow.
Nursery Retail Assistant
Having grown up in a farming community in the California central valley, I rebelled and studied ornamental Horticulture and landscape design. I worked in construction and taught at Bellingham Technical College and finished a Masters in Ag production focused on soils and plant pathology from Cal-Poly, San Luis Obispo. I also wrote a gardening column in the Bellingham Herald for a couple of decades and retired from teaching Agriculture and Science at Blaine High School. I enjoy the community interaction and education provided here at Cloud Mountain. The goal here has always been to help people be successful in growing fruit and beautiful gardens. I am stoked to be a member of this team. When not here at Cloud Mountain, I am always somewhere else!
Nursery Retail Assistant
I grew up bopping around my dad and grandpa’s gardens, canoeing in the Boundary Waters, and enjoying as much time exploring the great Minnesotan outdoors as I could. After taking a gap year to farm in Pennsylvania, I realized my passion for sustainable agriculture, natural resources, and community development. I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Food Systems and have lived in Bellingham for the past three years. I’ve worked for a handful of agricultural nonprofits supporting small farm businesses and recently finished two years in the Washington Conservation Corps. I hope to get to know even more about fruit trees, perennials, and the community working in Cloud Mountain’s nursery. In my free time, I enjoy camping, board games, trivia, and bopping around my own garden at home.
I’ve always loved to dig in the dirt and so I earned my B.A. in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia. But I took a little detour and flew planes for the Navy after college. I’ve recently retired from the Navy Reserve and am now returning to my roots and loving getting my hands in the soil and learning all I can about plants! When I’m not at Cloud Mountain I enjoy trail running, hiking and camping with my family. And seeing what I can grow and eat from my 96 square foot sidewalk garden.
Operations & Facilities (Lawrence Rd.)
I currently live in Bellingham Washington but I moved here from Arizona 5 years ago. I have recently graduated from Bellingham Technical College with my culinary degree and I have been cooking in a few places around town. I am interested in the internship because I feel that people in general are extremely disconnected with their food and where it comes from. I wanted to get an understanding of how food is grown so not only can I teach people and chefs, but run a restaurant on a fully functioning organic farm. Most of my time and brainpower goes to food, but other than that I enjoy being outside. I like to fish, hike, camp or even a bon fire in a back yard just to be outside.
Cloud Mountain Farm Center was started in 1978 as Cloud Mountain Farm. For over thirty years, Tom and Cheryl Thornton dedicated themselves to building a diverse, accessible, and inspiring farm–their legacy is one of outreach, innovation, creativity, and hard work. While the Thorntons retired from farm center operations in 2022, they both continue to be active in grower support, farm to school advocacy, and in the rural Whatcom county community.
I have spent 40 years as a student in annual and perennial cropping systems. I that time I have also attended countless agricultural workshops across the country. It’s been very satisfying to share the valuable lessons I have learned in crop production and in running a small business with the next generation of farmers who participate in our educational programs. I never get tired of the journey you must take every year through the seasons to grow successful perennial crops. I enjoy making wine, listening to music and spending time with family. My favorite thing to grow changed every year. Peaches have been the favorite for a while now, because they are the true local crop. When you pick them at their best they don’t ship very far. Peach plum is an obscure plum we’ve grown for 30 years, it will make you smile every time!
I have worked in the agricultural field and food system world for over 37 years. My work has ranged from business owner to educator to marketer and financial manager. My favorite part of the work here is building relationships between different sectors of the community with an agricultural focus. Community building through education and providing products grown here at the farm is my main passion. I farmed in Norway for 2 years and learned about small agricultural communities and the role that agriculture plays in those communities. I also worked in the Alaskan Arctic and also learned about how natural resources plays such a vital role in peoples’ lives there. My favorite thing to grow is flowering perennials and an assortment of vegetables in a home garden.