Year-round farmers markets bring creativity, connections, and enjoyment to King County

There has been an increase in year-round farmers markets in King County over the past decade that provide shoppers with access to local food and new varieties of fruits and vegetables throughout the year. There are also challenges that come with the choice to farm year-round.

The Local Food Initiative team recently spoke with Jennifer Antos, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Farmers Markets (NFM) to learn more about why farmers choose to sell year-round; the challenges and opportunities of year-round markets; and what’s next for year-round markets in King County. … More Year-round farmers markets bring creativity, connections, and enjoyment to King County

Recycled water use in King County: Navigating water rights with innovative solutions

Many agricultural lands in King County lack access to irrigation water or do not have sufficient water to meet the farm’s needs. Access to a stable water source significantly influences how farmland can be used. Irrigation improves crop yields, allows for more diverse crops, and can generate higher revenues for farmers.

To more accurately understand the scope of water needs in King County, the King County Agricultural Program will begin a County-wide agricultural water needs assessment in 2019. There is not enough current information to determine how much water is needed for King County farms to successfully produce crops. The water needs assessment will be important for managing and conserving water in King County.

Meanwhile, King County is exploring innovative solutions in the Sammamish Valley to provide increased access to irrigation. One solution is using recycled water on farmland, which is called out as a priority action in King County’s Local Food initiative. … More Recycled water use in King County: Navigating water rights with innovative solutions

Highline College provides urban agriculture and food security training to immigrant communities and youth

Highline College operates an Urban Agriculture/Food Security Program to provide training that improves access to healthy, culturally relevant food and encourages innovative thinking for South Sound immigrant-refugee communities and youth. In this article, Bobby Butler, Highline College Urban Agriculture Program Manager, discusses the importance of the Urban Ag program, what excites him about the program’s progress and next steps, and some of the challenges he is facing as he balances many important program obligations. … More Highline College provides urban agriculture and food security training to immigrant communities and youth

Land Conservation Initiative: Preserving and protecting farmland and urban green space

The Land Conservation Initiative is the way we can protect the livability, health, and ecological integrity of our region for everyone. Access to nature and open space is the foundation to our collective quality of life. However, development threatens working lands that produce food, jobs, and a rural way of life.

“The main goals of the Initiative are to accelerate investments in land conservation to save money, to ensure critical natural areas and resource lands can be preserved before they are lost to other uses, and to ensure green space for all residents,” said Bob Burns, Deputy Director of King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.

This Initiative is a regional collaboration between King County, cities, business people, farmers, environmental partners, and others that began by creating a strategy to preserve our last, most important natural lands, resource lands and green spaces. … More Land Conservation Initiative: Preserving and protecting farmland and urban green space

Featured farm of the month: Carnation Farms

Carnation Farms was established in 1908 near its namesake town in the Snoqualmie River valley as a flagship dairy and genetic research center for decades. The farm was purchased by Nestle and converted into a corporate retreat center. Descendants of the original owners purchased the farm back from Nestle in 2010 and created Carnation Farms as a nonprofit organization in 2016.

The new owners’ mission aims to go back to the farm’s roots and transform the way that people want to eat. They intend to share the 818-acre organic farm with the community and celebrate delicious and nutritious food produced in a sustainable manner by providing inspirational and educational experiences that positively affect health, the environment, and local economies. Carnation Farms develops the next generation of food citizens and grows new farmers. Find out more about Carnation Farm’s story and mission here. … More Featured farm of the month: Carnation Farms

Food Rescue Innovation Lab: Collaborative efforts to address hunger in Seattle

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), which manages garbage, recycling, and food and yard waste in Seattle, sees an opportunity to address these two issues—uneaten, surplus food and food insecurity—together, through food rescue. As part of its community-centered approach to tackling difficult issues, SPU partnered with Mary’s Place to convene its first Food Rescue Innovation Lab in early November. The event brought together a diverse group of innovative thinkers to discuss opportunities and solutions for rescuing safe, edible food from garbage and composting streams and diverting it to address hunger in Seattle. We interviewed Liz Fikejs, SPU Senior Waste Prevention Program Manager, to learn more about the Food Rescue Innovation Lab and SPU’s efforts around food rescue. … More Food Rescue Innovation Lab: Collaborative efforts to address hunger in Seattle

Farm King County Data Center now live!

Farm King County recently launched its Food Systems Data Center, which combines an interactive mapping platform with information and data on local agriculture to tell the story of King County’s farm and food system. Farm King County is a one stop resource for information and assistance for farm operations, and this data will be useful to better understand, analyze, and measure the healthy and viability of our food system. The major components of the data center include the King County Farm and Food System Map and food system indicator progress metrics. … More Farm King County Data Center now live!

CDFA and King County partner to explore innovative funding for food system infrastructure

A new partnership between King County and the Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) aims to identify innovative solutions for funding food system infrastructure projects in our region. Unfortunately, much of the regional infrastructure needed to grow our local food economy no longer exists or is not appropriately scaled to meet the needs of small producers. To meet the growing demand for local products, farmers and food entrepreneurs require appropriately scaled food system infrastructure. … More CDFA and King County partner to explore innovative funding for food system infrastructure