News & Updates
New Food Systems Data Center
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.
Local Food Initiative 2018 Annual Report Released
The King County Local Food Initiative 2018 Annual Report highlights significant accomplishments and tracks our progress toward building a stronger local food system over the year, including:
- Protecting more than 920 acres of farmland and getting more than 630 acres of fallow land back into food production in King County since 2016;
- Increasing farmer sales at King County’s farmers markets by nearly 5 percent year-over-year since 2017;
- Enrolling 26 aspiring farmers in training programs in 2018; and
- Supporting the Fresh Bucks Benefits program so that nearly $500,000 in Fresh Bucks were redeemed by low-income shoppers at farmers markets in 2018.
These are just a few of the examples of work King County and food systems stakeholders have done over the past few years to support farmers, increase sales of locally grown food, and bring the nutritional benefits of that food to more people. View the full report.
Cascadia Cooperative Farms: Connecting farmers to new markets in King County
Cascadia Cooperative Farms (CCF) is an egg and pastured poultry cooperative in King and Snohomish counties that brings together small local farms raising pastured poultry to help connect member farmers to new markets, help them earn fair compensation for their products, and alleviate some of the administrative burden related to producing poultry products.
The Local Food team spoke with Libby Reed, farmer at Orange Star Farm, to learn more about the cooperative farm model and why she believes cooperative farms work well for farmers with small businesses.
Visit our blog post to read more about Cascadia Cooperative Farm's story.
Mental Health Awareness Month: Learn about how you can support mental health for farmers
In 2019, Washington farmers and their families are facing tough challenges – increased development pressures, economic uncertainties, and spring weather challenges have added to the normal stresses of farming. Barriers to getting help may be equally challenging. Where can farmers go for support to deal with these stressful times?
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and King County is dedicated to supporting mental health for farmers this month and every month. Farmers are a high-risk population, with suicide rates consistently above those of the general population. Visit our blog post to read about the resources that may help if you are a farmer who needs to talk to someone, or you are someone who is worried about a farmer.
2017 Census of Agriculture: Main takeaways for King County
The Census of Agriculture, conducted once every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is a voluntary mail survey that counts the number of U.S. farms and ranches, and looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income, and expenditures.
The Census of Agriculture provides comprehensive agriculture data for every county in the nation. There are limitations to the Census due to the voluntary nature of the Census survey. Census surveys do not capture every farmer in the U.S., and the survey questions present categories that may not be relevant or applicable to every farmer.
However, the Census is currently the one of the best ways to glean countywide data about producers and the economic role of agriculture, which can influence decisions that will shape the future of agriculture in King County. Read more about the changes between 2012 and 2017 Ag Census for King County in DNRP's blog post.
You can also visit the NASS website to read more about the 2017 Census of Agriculture.
King Conservation District food systems report just released!
The report is titled 'Identifying Direct Market Opportunities and Challenges for King County Farms'. Small farm businesses have found profit in direct-to-market sales, but often find that they need better marketing and promotion support in order to sustain and amplify that profit. King Conservation District (KCD) and key stakeholders identified direct marketing support for farmers as a 2018 strategic initiative area for investment and contracted with the University of Washington Center for Public Health Nutrition (CPHN) to address two research question areas:
- What is the current state of King County’s direct market farm economy?
- What are the perceived challenges, areas of opportunity, and desired supports among farmers related to direct marketing?
To address these questions, CPHN conducted a systematic literature review on direct marketing in the United States and surveys and interviews with King County farmers about their experience with farming and direct marketing.