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Two organizations with human service missions developed a shared use agreement to dedicate three acres of farmland to growing fresh food for the Bellingham Food Bank. Five years ago a faith-based organization, Cascade Christian Services (CCS), contacted the Bellingham Food Bank to offer the use of their three acre farm. The Bellingham Food Bank was facing the challenge of how to provide more fresh food for their clients; access to a farm offered a low-cost solution to this problem.
Bellingham Food Bank entered into an agreement with CCS to pay a nominal amount for use of the land, and embarked on a partnership with Growing Washington. Growing Washington, a non-profit farm education organization, joined the project to manage and farm the land.
In the current agreement, Growing Washington pays the salary of the farm manager, while the food bank covers the other expenses. Max Morange of the Bellingham Food Bank says that the organizations have worked closely on planning the crops with the goal of offsetting seasonal shortages of produce at the food bank, balanced by the need to steward the land. “Most food banks measure their food in terms of pounds, but growing the most pounds of food would not take care of the soil.” The partners developed crop lists based on the most nutritionally dense foods that could be grown early in the year and late in the year – times when donations from other sources are not as strong as during the height of the growing season. Chard, kale and radishes are key crops in the early spring, and they plant winter squash and carrots for the late summer and fall. The farm is supported by volunteer work parties, and serves the community as a resource for education and communication about healthy food access.
Featured: December 2011
Food Assistance Agencies, Non-Profits, Farmers
Max Morange, Bellingham Food Bank, 360-739-5274