Generations of Farming in Whatcom County
A view of Mount Baker from Matheson Farms.

About 15 minutes outside of Bellingham near Bellewood Acres sits Matheson Farms. A multi-generational grass-fed beef farm, the land has been in the Matheson family for over fifty years. Sandra Matheson, a retired veterinarian and accredited professional in holistic management, took over the operation after her father, Lloyd Matheson, retired from the business in 1975. She has been managing and operating the farm since then. Matheson is a local leader in sustainable livestock farming, and works to mentor young women coming up in the farm industry, passing on her knowledge to the next generation of farmers.

The 18-acre parcel is part of a larger 40-acre farm which produces high quality meat and cattle locally; Sandra runs a roadside farm stand nearby on Kelly Road where she sells the meat. Matheson Farms is one of the 18 agricultural easements which Whatcom Land Trust manages through Whatcom County’s Agricultural Purchase of Development Rights (Ag PDR) Program. This program is designed to protect farmland throughout the county by protecting key parcels of land that are at risk of being developed. The program allows interested landowners to sell specific property rights such as the right to develop future homes or to subdivide the property. Doing so ensures that their land will continue to be available for agricultural purposes for years to come. The farm’s location near the Guide Meridian and close proximity to the City of Bellingham means it is very susceptible to development risks, and is already being encroached upon by sprawl development, making this Ag PDR an important step towards protecting agricultural land in Whatcom County.

The farm uses a holistic methodology of management, one that takes into consideration all aspects of the farming process, including ecological, economic and social. This form of management works very well to adapt to the complexities of the environment. All the beef produced on the farm is grass fed, and Matheson utilizes holistic grazing to ensure the health of both her cattle and the ecosystem. The farm is also a part of the Roots of Resilience program, of which Matheson is president, an organization whose mission is to rejuvenate and heal grasslands.

Hay bales on Matheson Farms

Matheson Farms works to leave the land better than when they found it. As well as practicing holistic, eco-friendly agriculture, the farm runs Sustainable Living Education programs to help others to undertake environmentally friendly farming practices and create a more sustainable future. Whatcom Land Trust is proud to continue on a 36-year tradition of protecting and conserving farmland in Whatcom County with Matheson Farms, and we look forward to continuing on that work for generations to come.

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