Submitted by Sustainable Connections
Sustainable Connections awarded five Whatcom County businesses as sustainability champions at the organization’s 13th annual All Members Meeting & Awards Ceremony.
Drawn from the four tenets of Sustainable Connections’ mission, the awards congratulate leaders in promoting a strong community, healthy environment, meaningful employment, and thinking local first as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award for leaders making positive changes within their business and the greater community. The winners are as follows:
Strong Community: Bellingham Farmers Market
The Market’s dedication to serving its customers and meeting the needs of its vendors is unparalleled. Chefs in the Market, the Bellingham Chef’s Collaborative and the Farm to School program build vital bridges between food producers, food preparers and the public. The Fresh Bucks program has allowed WIC recipients to purchase fresh, local foods regardless of their income. The Market’s presence has grown with the addition of the monthly winter markets and the Holiday Pop-Up Market. The bustling Saturday mornings have garnered national – and local – recognition.
Healthy Environment: Osprey Hill Farm
Osprey Hill Farm is a leader in preserving farmland in Whatcom County, advocating healthy environmental practices and protecting valuable agricultural areas. With the opening of their new poultry processing unit, Osprey Hill Farm applied the same principles that they use at the farm. The unit was built from reclaimed steel cargo containers, the wall paneling from 100% recycled material. All waste from butcher days is collected and used for irrigation. Offal is composted and used to improve the soil for vegetable production.
Meaningful Employment: Q Laundry
Q Laundry employs 9 attendants, working what’s typically a minimum-wage job but with an average rate of $15/hour. Shifts are scheduled to accommodate bus routes and biking or walking is strongly encouraged. Monthly team meetings are used not only for checking in, but also for deciding on community donations. Trainings give employees the tools to be confident and safe. Q Laundry emissaries have been spotted at a wide variety of volunteer efforts at community events. Employees are involved in projects like translating materials into Spanish, promoting the business’s Instagram page, and re-writing the training manual complete with video.
Thinking Local First: Faber Construction
Faber Construction is family owned and operated, founded by Rick and Debbie Faber in 1987. While originally specializing in agricultural buildings, they have since expanded both in project volume and scope of work. They are now a full service construction company working in both the public and private sectors. Faber consistently makes an extra effort to source project materials from businesses nearby. In 2014, they kept 65% of their spending in Whatcom County, and another 25% within the state of Washington. Not only did they do it – they also tracked it; a true sign of commitment.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Janet Lightner and Ed Bennet, Boundary Bay Brewery
Janet and Ed are tireless promoters of what it takes to have a true community, believing – and proving – that mentoring and collaborating creates a culture that’s good for business. They match affable natures with incredibly generous donations of time, product, and space – floor, wall and garden. They have been instrumental in crafting Bellingham’s identity. Boundary Bay Brewery recently won the Philanthropic Business of the Year for Washington State, demonstrating that we are a better, stronger, more thoughtful, less wasteful community and a whole lot more FUN with them around.
“There are so many inspiring stories of businesses making conscious efforts to better our community, our environment, and the lives of their workers,” said Abby Hade Terpstra, membership coordinator at Sustainable Connections. “It is an honor to present these awards to truly exceptional entrepreneurs and to share their stories of innovation and success.”