Good Food Bags – Delivering locally grown produce to families in need
Good Food Bags delivers subsidized fresh produce to families in Seattle and South King County with limited financial resources or inadequate access to fresh food. The bags, which are delivered weekly, contain locally grown fruits and vegetables, along with recipes for cooking healthy meals. Good Food Bags were delivered to 1,078 households at 25 sites in 2015. These efforts include the Good Food Bag program (managed by Seattle Tilth), Farm to Go (managed by Pike Place Market Foundation), and Harvest Share (managed by 21 Acres).
Access to affordable, high quality farmland is one of the biggest challenges facing new and beginning farmers in King County. In 2015 alone, King County acquired farmland easements on five farms totaling 462 acres. Since its inception in 1979, more than 14,700 acres of farmland have been preserved.
Acquisition of a farmland easement on the 215-acre Suhoversnic farm in the Enumclaw APD will enhance the long-term viability of this family run dairy, and contribute to salmon habitat protection and restoration.
Building Elk Run Farm and supplying food banks with fresh, local produce
The South King County Food Coalition is transforming a former golf course in Maple Valley into a farm. Elk Run Farm will provide the Coalition's 12 member food banks with fresh produce. Fresh produce is in short supply in the food donation stream. In the first year of establishing the farm, the farm staff and volunteers successfully installed a water pump, plowed and tilled one acre of land, and planted their first crops to be harvested in June and a cover crop to enhance soil quality.
King Conservation District supporting economic viability
King Conservation District’s Regional Food System Grant Program is designed to bridge the gap between producers and consumers, and to serve as a catalyst in making local food production both environmentally and economically sustainable. The program supports projects that contribute to the economic viability of local farms, encourage new farmers, expand acreage in farm production, improve food access, and increase demand for King County farm products. A total of $664,000 was awarded during the first round of grants in November 2015, and included a broad diversity of projects related to farm/production, consumer demand, and food access.
Students starting the day right
The Highline School District improved student nutrition by encouraging students to eat breakfast at school. Breakfast has been an underutilized opportunity to provide a nutritious start to the day for the high number of students qualifying for free and reduced price meals. Working with community partners with funding from the Partnerships to Improve Community Health grant, the school program has “Student & Staff” breakfasts at Chinook middle school. The Student & Staff breakfasts have been so successful that the cafeteria has had a full house on these mornings.
Farm King County - web portal for farming resources
Easy access to technical assistance on the web allows farmers to spend more time doing what they do best – farming. FarmKingCounty.org is a one-stop shop web portal for farming resources. The project, which is collaboration between WSU, KCD, WSDA and King County, provides web based technical information and resources that will allow local farmers and food entrepreneurs to grow their enterprises and make operations easier.
Expanding Fresh Bucks into farmers markets in King County
The Fresh Bucks program, administered by the City of Seattle, provides a $1 to $1 match for people who use EBT/SNAP benefits at farmers market so they can purchase more fruits and vegetables (up to $10 match). Last year, the Fresh Bucks program provided $122,812 in match so low income community members could purchase fruits and vegetables. In 2015, the amount of Fresh Bucks redeemed increased 24 percent from 2014. Thanks to a USDA Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grant, the City has plans to expand Fresh Bucks into over 30 farmers markets throughout King County.
Making land drainage easier
King County and the King Conservation District have streamlined the permitting process and improved access to technical and financial resources, making it easier for farmers to drain their land. In 2015, over 400 acres of farmland benefited from drainage enhancement projects completed through the Agricultural Drainage Assistance Program (ADAP), nearly 75 acres of which will be available for renewed production.
New farm stands in Southwest Seattle communities
The community-based organization, Roots of All Roads (ROAR), partnered with the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods to open a new farm stand in the High Point Community and the Delridge Grocery Cooperative opened a farm stand in the Delridge Community. Both farm stands accept subsidies to ease the cost of the fresh produce for low-income community members. The farm stands operate during the Summer growing season.
Improving access to irrigation water
In the Sammamish River Valley the county is working to provide farmers with access to recycled water from the Brightwater Wastewater Treatment Facility. While still in its infancy, groundwork has been laid for a comprehensive water resource management strategy in the Sammamish for agriculture and the environment centered around using recycled water.
In the Snoqualmie Valley, a group of landowners voted to establish a new Watershed Improvement District (WID). One of the initial objectives of the WID will be create a water bank, bringing together willing buyers and sellers of existing water rights. The water bank will promote conservation and protection of water supply to ensure growers have the water they need to be productive now and into the future.
Celebrating local food - CHOMP
King County’s first local food and sustainable living festival, CHOMP! took place Sept. 12-13 at Marymoor Park. Attendees of all ages participated in hands-on activities and demonstrations from local farmers and sustainable businesses, tasted local cuisine and enjoyed live music and entertainment throughout the day. CHOMP! supports King County’s Local Food Initiative.
Piloting Farm Fresh Local
King County is using its award-winning employee wellness program as the foundation for a pilot project designed to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables and support local farmers. The Farm Fresh Local pilot project, which received a grant from the U.S. Department, offers the county’s 13,000 employees the opportunity to reduce their out-of-pocket healthcare costs by purchasing locally grown fruits and vegetables. It’s an extension of the county’s Healthy Incentives program, which last year received Harvard’s Innovations in American Government Award.