Conservation Commission News

Food System Support grants awarded to 11 conservation districts

Food System Support grants awarded to 11 conservation districts

The Washington State Conservation Commission (SCC), in partnership with the Washington State Food Policy Forum (FPF), has awarded $55,000 in grants to 11 conservation districts statewide to strengthen our food system. Projects will be completed by June 30, 2023.

Emphasizing highly collaborative projects, these grants will actively increase food system connections within underserved communities. Grant-funded activities address vulnerabilities in the food system and were identified in the 2021 FPF Recommendations to Legislature and by conservation districts in last year’s food system grants.

This funding will support conservation districts that work to connect people with local farms, food banks, farmers markets, and community gardens; support food and nutrition education, providing translated workshops and outreach materials about growing, farming equipment, cooking, nutrition, and food preservation; and develop infrastructure for local food systems and food security efforts.  

Project highlights include:

Cascadia Conservation District will support residents at the Housing Authority of Chelan County and the City of Wenatchee with bi-lingual gardening and nutrition education courses and encourage the use of raised garden beds. This project will also identify and link communities in need of mobile food bank delivery and overcoming language and/or transportation barriers preventing food access.  

Clark Conservation District will produce 8 short bi-lingual (Ukrainian, Spanish, and English) videos and handouts about accessing and cooking with local produce. They will do this in partnership with the Southwest Washington LULAC Foundation, LULAC Grows, and WSU SNAP-Education Nutrition Education Program.  

Kitsap Conservation District will purchase both a commercial freezer and refrigerator for the Farm to Freezer and Farm to Food Pantry Programs, providing crucial infrastructure to support local food security programs with locally grown products. Funding will also support outreach and education activities, and translation of outreach materials including cooking videos and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipes for cultural foods distributed to food bank clients.  

Mason Conservation District will coordinate, attend, and promote SNAP sign-up events, gardening and seed-sharing workshops, and produce bilingual signage and outreach materials. The district will partner with Shelton Farmers Market, local farmers, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, and WSU extension.  

Pacific Conservation District will work with local partners to rebuild the South Bend Community Garden, replacing old, unusable garden beds. Additionally, this project will provide bilingual outreach signage and materials and food education events held at the garden.

Pierce Conservation District, in coordination with WSU Research & Extension and many community partners, will be creating a farm incubator with the goal of launching new farm businesses by making farmland, equipment, infrastructure, and learning opportunities available and accessible. Within this project, PCD is supporting new farm business owners within diverse and underserved communities and working to address historical inequities in the farm system to grow a new generation of farmers.

Palouse Conservation District will host beginning gardening workshops focused on irrigation, container gardening, and building soil health. They will have starter gardening kits available free of charge to workshop participants. Additional activities in coordination with multiple local partners, include irrigation and garden tours, establishing a children's educational garden, coordinating local produce to local food banks, and distribution of family garden baskets to class participants.

Skagit Conservation District will develop a campaign that brings awareness to food systems and engages the community to support local farmers, in partnership with local food banks, Community Action, Skagit Gleaners, and WSU Extension. SCD plans to sponsor people in underserved communities to attend the WSU Food Safety and Preservation class, titled "Grow Your Own Groceries." The funding will enable the creation and translation of materials about food preservation, gardening, workshops, and local farmers.

Spokane Conservation District will use funding to support the “Scale House Market and Commercial Learning Kitchen,” a collaborative community project to create a permanent-structure farmers market and commercial kitchen. Located in an area that experiences food insecurity, this effort will provide support to farm and food businesses as well as provide food assistance programs such as SNAP, Market Match, Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.  

Underwood Conservation District will support further development and expansion of their farm tool library. The library provides free or low-cost access to specialty tools for small or aspiring farmers and gardeners. These tools directly support farm operations and improve viability, promote conservation practices, and improve food security throughout the community. This project aims to provide services to underserved communities, commercial farmers, or serious gardeners working to feed their families.  

Whatcom Conservation District will increase access to district services, through Spanish translation of their website, outreach materials, and how-to guides. These services encompass workshops, and WCD’s farm equipment rental program, which includes poultry processing equipment, a no-till drill, and a manure compost spreader. In coordination with Sustainable Connections Cloud Mountain Farm Center, WCD will integrate real-time translation technology into two farming workshops.    

Learn more about the Food Policy Forum and food system work here.