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Village Store opens at Country Charm

From left, Cheryl Duvall, Craig Higa, Noel Higa, Roberta Romm, Michaela Murphy and Tasha Branch add the -
From left, Cheryl Duvall, Craig Higa, Noel Higa, Roberta Romm, Michaela Murphy and Tasha Branch add the
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ARLINGTON Three local coffee roasters, two Stilly Valley honey producers and fresh veggies picked daily are among the local produce and products that are up for sale at the new Village Store in the former Country Charm Store, as of the Fourth of July.
Its a Higa-Branch venture with a lot of help from family and friends to get the shop open for the Fourth.
The fresh picked produce is coming initially from Linda Nuenzig and the 90 Farm, with more coming later from Pragtree Farm and Lovejoys, said Tasha Branch, of Higa-Branch land-use consultants.
Located on Jordan Road the Pragtree Farm raises salad greens and baby carrots and beets as well as packaging wild dried chanterelles and morel mushrooms, which will be carried at the Village Store. Pragtree is one of several community-supported sustainable agriculture ventures in the Stillaguamish Valley along with Lovejoys Garden Treasures, located on SR 530 near Island Crossing.
Pragtree Farm is owned by Evergreen Land Trust, said Roberta Romm, one of the resident farmers who were helping to set up the store before opening day.
The store will carry Dues strawberries as long as they are in season, and then raspberries from the 90 Farm, off Schloman Road, north of Arlington.
Local products include wooden furniture by Carl Clark, stoneware pottery by Persis Gayle and wooden tools by Lucinda VanValkenburg, among art and crafts and other locally created items such as Moon Valley Body and Bath products and nursery stock from Ian and Anne Bush.
Products from slightly farther afield include milk and cheese from Golden Glen, in Bow, Wash. and Edaleen Dairy, in Lynden, both of which acquired some of the equipment from Country Charm when Hank Graafstra sold the cows last year.
There will be ice cream by the scoop from Lopez Island Ice Cream and jams and chocolates and toppings from Port Townsend.
We are the most distant retail outlet for the Lopez Ice Cream makers, Branch said.
A quick remodel of the front shop over the past few weeks made the new retail outlet open in time for the Fourth as well as for the evening movies in Terrace Park on Thursdays in July and the concerts there on Thursdays in August as well as the Fourth.
Well have signs all around town so people will know to come, Higa said.
Its kind of along the lines that we had in mind for RAISE, a nonprofit organization to preserve agriculture in Arlington. We talked about having a place that sells all local stuff, Higa said. Thats what we are doing here.
Tasha Branch is the partner and daughter of Higa, and she grew up in Arlington. Her friend, Michaela Murphy is helping run the store.
We both shopped here all the time as kids, Branch said. Michaela came down the hill for ice cream.
Higa-Branch was hired by Graafstra to design the subdivision of the uplands of his former dairy farm, while the lower land will become a city park, with access to the river, possibly a camping area and lots of open space to enjoy nature. (An agreement is being hammered out between Graafstra and the city of Arlington.)
Higa said the 13 upland acres will include an urban village, with retail and residential combined in the outbuildings around the barn, as well as some cottage housing in the high-density residential areas.
The barn will be remodeled later for an extension to the store, with potential use as an art gallery and other brainstorms of the Higa-Branch partnership.
The three Arlington coffee roasters are Bella Nova, Lawrys and Blue Stilly Coffee. Bella Nova will be served at the espresso bar.

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