by Laura Steiger, Outreach Team
We are excited to introduce the 2018 grant recipients and share a brief introduction to their projects. Look for updates about these projects throughout the year.
Since 2000, the Co-op’s Farm Fund has granted funds to innovative projects that benefit local, sustainable, organic food and farming.
Co-op Farm Fund projects benefit not only the grant recipients, but benefit our entire community by helping to ensure the future of a vibrant and resilient local farming community and an ongoing supply of local, organic food for all of us. The Co-op Farm Fund is partially funded by your donations—this is your money at work!
Bellingham Food Bank Seed Money Project
In 2018, Seed Money will partner with up to five farms to supply fresh, local produce to Bellingham Food Bank. Here’s how it works: the food bank pre-pays wholesale contracts in March. Farms will grow one or two in-demand crops: cabbage, beets, or winter squash. When crops are ready for harvest, farms call Bellingham Food Bank’s Small Potatoes Gleaning Project and the gleaners harvest, pack, transport, and deliver the produce to Bellingham Food Bank. Farmers are responsible only for growing the food and providing an invoice for what has been harvested.
City Sprouts Farm’s Birchwood Community Farm Stand
Since the Birchwood area Albertsons grocery store closed in 2016, residents have sought solutions to food availability. The Birchwood Community Farm Stand (BCFS) will be centrally located in the Birchwood neighborhood to provide fresh, locally grown produce once a week. Birchwood farmers including City Sprouts Farm, Wild Rye, and Ten Fold Farm will provide fresh vegetables, eggs, and other food items such as locally made bread. The BCFS addresses food access issues and will give customers the opportunity to meet local growers. The stand also provides a marketing opportunity for farmers and producers to sell their goods based on cooperation rather than competition. Weekly information about organic, sustainable vegetable production and how to prepare the available produce will also be provided.
Matheson Farms’ New Rancher Camp
New Rancher Camp is a five-day intensive course for people interested in becoming farmers or ranchers. Participants learn new skills and discover a holistic approach to farming, life, and land management. The retreat-style hands-on camp teaches about livestock, business, grazing, and more. The camp hopes to help to fill the demand for skilled farm and ranch workers and to meet the future demand of retiring farmers and ranchers who would like to find someone qualified to take over their operations. Matheson Farms is a 60-year-old multi-generational local ranch that produces wholesome grass-fed and humanely raised beef and yak.
Sustainable Connections’ Food To Bank On
Started by the Co-op’s Farm Fund and now a Sustainable Connections program, Food To Bank On (FTBO) is a farm incubation project providing resources and mentorship to support the success of new farms while providing fresh, local food to area food banks. In 2018, FTBO will provide an annual series of agriculture-focused business planning workshops and projects to help participants develop successful, long-lasting farm businesses; contract with participating farms to grow food for partner hunger relief agencies, paying wholesale market rates; connect beginning farmers with experienced mentor farmers available for questions, guidance, experience, and to exchange farm visits; provide scholarships for farmers to attend relevant conferences and workshops; give farmers free access to Sustainable Connections’ resources; promote FTBO farms and provide marketing assistance; increase farmers’ access to professional business planning services; and collaborate with WSU Extension to offer farmer field days and Good Agricultural Practices trainings.
Twin Sisters Farmer Market
Twin Sisters is a cooperatively run mobile market that serves Nugent’s Corner and Kendall every Saturday from June through October. Its mission is to support development of a strong local food system in the Foothills region of Whatcom County by increasing affordable access to locally grown, healthy foods. Grant funds will be used to purchase unsold produce (at wholesale rates) remaining after the market closes and deliver it to Foothills Food Bank. This would allow participating farmers to bring more produce to the market, making the market more appealing to customers, while reducing risk for farmers supplying the market with perishable produce. Community members will benefit by having a greater selection of produce at the market, and the 150 families served by Foothills Food Bank distributions will benefit from the additional fresh local produce.