Mount Baker Farm opened its gates to the public as a campground with a grand opening celebration on Saturday, June 17.
“We expect to be really, really busy during the summer months,” said farm owner Ruth Vandestraat. “We’ve already … given train rides and petting experiences of the donkeys and goats to public school kids.”
Vandestraat purchased the nearly 70-acre property from previous owner Rose Burton in April of this year.
“I lived on Orcas for 30 years until 2013 – then I moved to Bellingham for three years,” said Vandestraat. “My daughter in law, Barbara Roddy – ‘Captain Barb’ – worked for Rose who owned this farm. She knew it was for sale and thought I should come over and look at it. I loved it.”
Though Vandestraat, her daughter Cheryl Jackson nor Captain Barb have operated a campground before, Vandestraat said she is excited about the project. The grand opening this past weekend came after a handful of soft openings that were open to islanders.
“We just wanted to see how everyone felt about it,” Vandestraat said. “People really loved it, and loved the experience and the train ride.”
Mount Baker Farm was originally used for dairy production. The iconic barn on the property was built in 1918 by Jesse Waldrip; it was designed as a dairy barn by W.R.B. Wilcox, an architect who practiced in Seattle from 1907-1922. At one time, the property was home to peacocks. A previous owner of the farm was a railway enthusiast who constructed a two-mile track through the property along with two stations.
There are around 30 campsites, and they vary from $35 to $50 for single tents and $70 for a multi-tent site. Campers don’t need to bring their own supplies, unless they want to; otherwise, they can rent tents right there.
“It makes it a lot more flexible,” said Vandestraat, who added that the original idea was to offer glamping (i.e. glamorous camping), but when the county did not approve the plan, she changed it to traditional camping.
The public is invited to the farm whenever the gate is open, said Vandestraat. Kids of all ages can enjoy train rides, a petting zoo, outdoor games and more.
“We’re really excited about opening this up to the community,” she said.
For more information on the farm, visit http://mountbakerfarm.com/.