As part of KCD’s Regional Food System Program, King Conservation District initiated a grant fund in 2015 to support projects that strengthen our local food economy. Our goals are to bridge the gap between producers and consumers, and to serve as a catalyst in making local food production both environmentally and economically sustainable.
KCD’s Regional Food System Grant Program is based on goals and strategies of the King County Local Food Initiative and outreach with a diversity of regional food system participants. The program funds food system-related projects with demonstrated public benefit and a link to improving working agricultural lands in King County. The program is designed to support projects that contribute to the economic viability of local farmers, encourage new farmers, expand acreage in food production, improve food access, and increase demand for and sales of King County farm products.
In addition to competitive grants, KCD funds strategic initiative grants intended as longer-term, sustained investments in key food system concerns. In 2018, KCD sought extensive input from food system stakeholders, the King County Local Food Initiative team, and farmers across the region. This input was distilled, vetted, and ultimately incorporated into KCD’s ILA with King County. The current areas for strategic investment include working farmland access, farm business support and technical assistance coordination, institutional purchasing, and infrastructure support.
Working Farmland Access $150,000
Since 2017, KCD has been investing in coordinated efforts to help farmers better access farmland. Work includes maintaining formal coordination between agencies and non-profits, helping landowners ready underutilized farmland for production, supporting new and beginning farmers in their unique journeys to establish/expand successful farm businesses, and facilitating lasting land matches. This work requires partners to work closely with participants to understand unique barriers to advancing goals and making matches, and assembling project teams offering tailored technical assistance, training, and access to cost-sharing resources to support participants and move matches forward.
In 2020, KCD partnered with Washington Farmland Trust and other members of the Working Farmland Partnership to support establishing strategies, systems, and protocols that facilitate effective, efficient collaboration across agencies offering niche expertise to better serve King County’s farmers and farmland owners in achieving their land goals.
The ultimate goal of this work is to facilitate matches to bring more land into production and to increase the number of farmers farming in King County. Current work includes focus on developing a replicable, alternative land tenure model, and a new framework for succession planning.
Senior Project Manager, Regional Food Systems Program
Mary coordinates the KCD Regional Food System Program, including Strategic Initiatives and Food System Grants, with the goals of making an enduring contribution toward strengthening King County’s food economy.