The King County Council has allocated $1,380,000 to help King County farmers and farmers markets comply with public health and safety operating requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to overcome losses due to COVID-19.
Numerous studies across the Puget Sound region have confirmed that there is insufficient kitchen, processing, packaging, storage space, and transportation capacity to adequately and efficiently connect local food producers with target markets. Much of the regional infrastructure needed to grow our local food economy no longer exists, is in need of improvement, or is not adequate to meet the needs of small and medium farms and food businesses in our region.
All aspects of the local food economy have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, and farmers are on the frontline
Many King County farmers are impacted by the temporary suspension of farmers markets due to COVID-19. Flower growers in particular experience unique challenges because they rely heavily on farmers markets for sales.
At a time when our community connections are strained and food security is of concern, it is inspiring to look at a program that is cultivating not just crops, but leadership. At Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetlands (RBUFW), young people are taking active roles to build a just and abundant food future that is vital to our sustenance and economy. They are working to develop connections with their community and farming through meaningful learning experiences in fields, farms, and kitchens.
Improving the productivity of existing farmland and bringing more land into food production are two of the main objectives of a new Snoqualmie Valley Agriculture Land Resource Strategic Plan that is being developed as part of the historic and innovative Fish, Farm, Flood process.
Have you read Fortune’s recent article about the innovative ways restaurants are improving eating and community experiences around the country? If so, you may have heard about a new food hall opening in Tukwila.
A primary strategy identified in the Local Food Initiative is improving the food processing, storage and distribution infrastructure in King County to accommodate and increase food distribution.
In November, American Farmland Trust (AFT) released the Washington state fact sheet summarizing results from its Non-Operating Landowners (NOLs) survey that surveyed individually or partnership-owned lands. This survey revealed that there is significant opportunity for increased conservation practices on rented land to improve soil quality.
Since farming on rented land is very common in King County, these results are particularly valuable for our farming community.
“AFT conducted this survey in 11 states to learn more about NOL and renter relationships, communication in those relationships, conservation attitudes and behaviors, and conservation and outreach needs,” said Courtney Naumann, AFT Pacific Northwest Agricultural Stewardship Program Manager. “These results will help us understand who we should reach out to engage in conversations around agricultural stewardship, and how we can best serve demographics who fall into a renter/owner role.”
There are many ways you can continue to eat local during winter months, including shopping at year-round markets, joining a winter CSA, visiting U-Picks and farm stands, knowing what’s in season, and eating at restaurants that source locally. These options not only support local farmers and the local food economy, but also allow consumers to buy farm fresh local food year round in King County!