Let’s go pre-covid for a moment here, an earlier time of Chi’s Farm when WSU’s Clallam Extension office offered Farm to Food Pantry Contracts, those looked like a check for a few hundred dollars that would be paid back in deliveries of produce to the food bank. Fast forward to 2020 when suddenly major distribution sites for farm produce were shut down due to the virus, like all restaurants and farmers markets. These were huge financial problems for farmers and the Olympic Peninsula Farmers Fund (OPFF) was created in response.
OPFF was created in 2020 by the North Olympic Development Council, WSU Clallam Extension, the North Olympic Land Trust and the Jefferson Land Trust in response to the impact of Covid on area farmers and on food insecurity. The organizations jointly raised more than $120,000 from individuals, private foundations and local government to provide contracts to farmers (and one fisher) to grow food for area food banks and meal programs. The farmers were paid up front and had up to 5 years to fulfill the contracts. That year they contracted Chi’s Farm for $6,500, all to be paid back in fresh produce. Then in 2021, along with the CARES Act, that number at Chi’s Farm grew to $12,000, all paid back to the food bank in fresh produce.
To clarify, that produce is distributed via the Port Angeles Food Bank and goes out to all the food banks in Clallam County. Yes, Sequim has an abundance of farm land and cultivated land which benefits all the food banks in the county. It gets divided up and driven out to the West side of the county every Tuesday.
This year things have shifted again, there is no OPFF or Cares Act. Fortunately with the opening of all the new channels for local, fresh produce to flow to the food banks that were created and oh so beneficial, the WSDA has found new funds to support this growth. This spring Chi’s Farm is finishing up a $2000 spring season contract and will be moving on with a $1,200 summer contract. So although it isn’t the $12,000, it is a big jump from the pre-covid few hundred.
Additionally there is a customer of Chi’s Farm, who prefers to remain anonymous, and has consistently made it their business to create a personal contract with Chi’s Farm. For the past two years this person has given Scott $3,000 upfront to be paid to the food bank in fresh produce. Prior to that this same person used to buy CSA shares for those in need to be delivered to First Step, a nonprofit that support families in need.
Chi’s Farm absolutely values this incredible link to the food banks and supporting our community. We appreciate the opportunity to grow exceptional food that will feed those who are food insecure. We also appreciate the mutual benefit that happens here. It is extremely helpful for the farm to have that money upfront, the early part of the season is expensive and the crops don’t deliver until months down the road. So with those upfront funds, there is less need to dive into debt that evens out later in the season.
This post was meant to inform you of the positive efforts happening and it would be incomplete if it didn’t include giving you an opportunity. If it interests you to set something up with Chi’s Farm, you can reply to this email and work with Scott on setting something up. If you would like to donate to our Peninsula-wide ‘Farm to Food Bank Fund’, you can do that via WSU’s Gift Foundation, click here on the North Olympic Peninsula Farm to Food Bank Program and make a donation.
Thanks for keeping it local!!