Fund awards $26,000 to small farms in area

Posted 6/25/20

The Olympic Peninsula Farmers Fund has awarded a total of $26,650 to seven small farms in Jefferson County so they can provide locally grown produce, meat, eggs, and dairy products to food banks and local feeding programs.

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Fund awards $26,000 to small farms in area

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The Olympic Peninsula Farmers Fund has awarded a total of $26,650 to seven small farms in Jefferson County so they can provide locally grown produce, meat, eggs, and dairy products to food banks and local feeding programs.

The fund was created as a partnership between the North Olympic Development Council, the WSU Extension Regional Small Farms Program, the North Olympic Land Trust and the Jefferson Land Trust to provide pre-paid, long-term contracts of $1,500 to $5,000 to farmers this season.

Farmers will in turn provide food for food banks and local feeding programs over the next three to five years.

Seven farms in Jefferson County received a contract: Red Dog, Midori, Spring Rain, Sunfield Land for Learning, Corona, and Mystery Bay farms.

“The [Tri-Area] Food Bank is located across the street from our farm and for a long time we’ve been working with the Food Bank as well as the people that manage it to try to get them to source more of their fresh produce locally,” said John Bellow, owner of Spring Rain Farm & Orchard.

“The whole point of our business is to provide food to our community. As a business we have to balance the books each year which puts some finite limits on how much we can donate to the Food Bank.”

This new contract means Spring Rain will receive funding needed to be able to give food directly to the Food Bank on a regular basis over the next five years.

Like many local businesses, farmers have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Farmers markets and restaurants make up more than half of a farm’s sales every year, according to the North Olympic Development Council (NODC).

Since restaurants were closed in March, April and the beginning of May — when farmers are just starting their spring selling season — many were not selling as much produce.

According to Karen Affeld, executive director of the NODC, the program was devised to have a quick turnaround time, so local farms could get immediate support and to start a long-term stream of fresh food to food banks.

Community donations raised a total of $50,250 in May, which was then split between seven farms in Jefferson County and five in Clallam County.

“We awarded $26,650 in contracts to the Jefferson County farms and $23,600 in contracts to the Clallam County farms,” Affeld said. “The food may move across county lines if needed — especially products like cheese, milk, and honey.”

The organization is expecting another $20,000 in donations and grants to come in during the next month or so and will do another round of contracts to local farms using those funds, she added.

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