Honesty takes a hit on Central Whidbey farm

Dorothy Mueller of Bell’s Farm stands by the sign explaining why she closed the honesty stand at her West Beach Road farm.   - Nathan Whalen photo
Dorothy Mueller of Bell’s Farm stands by the sign explaining why she closed the honesty stand at her West Beach Road farm.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen photo

A rash of thefts is forcing a farm to close its stand that relied on the integrity of its customers.

Bell’s Farm, located on West Beach Road northwest of Coupeville, closed its honesty stand the evening of April 9 because of the continual theft of produce in recent weeks.

“We’ve had an uptick in thefts in the past three weeks,” owner Dorothy Mueller said. “It’s been going on since December.”

Bell’s Farm offers an honesty stand out of a 10-foot-by-20-foot building located on the farm.

The stand recently offered potatoes, vegetables such as swiss chard, beets and eggs from nearby 3 Sisters Farm.

Shoppers would simply select the produce they want and then drop the cash in a drop box.

Mueller said theft has always been a minor problem, but it has increased during a time of the year when there is a lower amount of traffic coming to the farm. When she’s only making several dollars and produce is disappearing from the stand, it was time to make a change. She kept the stand open year around and it provided some money coming into the farm during the winter months when the farm isn’t selling at local farmer’s markets.

The only time the stand closes is whenever high winds from the west buffet the area.

During the busier months in the late spring and summer, neighbors and higher traffic coming to the farm helps reduce thefts from the honesty stand.

Bell’s Farm currently comprises 60 acres located between Coupeville and Oak Harbor. In addition to the produce, it also sells strawberries, which will be ripe enough to pick sometime in June.

The honesty stand isn’t the only place where shoppers can find Bell’s Farm produce. When the stand closed, Mueller said she moved the available produce to 3 Sisters Market, which recently opened at the old San de Fuca fire house. Market staff sells items grown by local farmers in addition to their grass-fed beef.

Bell’s Farm also sells out of a booth Saturdays at the Coupeville Farmers Market, which opened earlier in April and it will sell at the Oak Harbor Public Market which takes place every Thursday starting in mid-May.

Mueller said she may re-open the stand in a couple weeks.


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