Increasing the stable supply of healthy local food for Whatcom County residents is a primary mission of the Co-op’s Farm Fund. In 2015, the Farm Fund created the Next Step Project to offer assistance to farmers scaling up to increase the amount of local food available to local markets.
On September 1, 2016, local farmworkers voted to unionize. Five hundred indigenous farmworkers formed an independent union, drafted a union contract, won an $850,000 lawsuit, and established a new Washington state labor law that guarantees both hourly and piece-rate farmworkers have the right to paid 10-minute rest breaks.
If you’ve lived in Whatcom County for any length of time, you have likely eaten food grown at Cedarville Farm. Since 1988, Mike and Kim Finger have been working the loamy soil at their farm along the banks of the Nooksack River just west of Deming, and the Co-op has been proud to sell their fine produce in our stores since that very first year.
What local food? Support local farms! The Farm Fund help us live our values to be a cornerstone of the local food economy, ensuring that our community and region is capable of feeding itself.
The farm used a secured Farm Fund loan to purchase organic, Non-GMO Project Verified feed upfront from Scratch & Peck. This enables the farm to better control the price and quality of their free-range poultry, while keeping their money circulating in our local economy.
Since 2013, Matt and Jena McIntyre, live and farm off the scenic North Cascades Highway raising a flock of Icelandic sheep, other livestock, and growing vegetables. They received a Farm Fund grant to purchase mobile shearing equipment so they could share their skills and equipment with other local farmers.
The Farm Fund was recently able to direct $25,500 in grants to six local farms scaling up to supply the local wholesale market.
Boldly Grown is a perfect example of the farms the Next Step Project was created for—farms that are ready to take the next step to scale up for the wholesale market, but need assistance with a specific input to make the leap.
Started in 2009, Viva Farm’s mission is to launch a new generation of farmers.
The Growing Garden is preparing to continue its impressive legacy by combining a solidly established farm with the innovative ideas of a young farmer, backed by the Co-op Farm Fund and the community.