King County Food and Fitness Initiative
their children and the natural environment. The food system is beginning to respond to this shiftin consumer preferences with several innovative approaches, as described below.Production
Demand for fresh produce has led to increased production of high value crops throughintensive row and greenhouse/nursery methods. The value of produce has more than doubled invalue since 1982. Public interest in preserving farmland, expressed through the County’sFarmland Preservation Program, has maintained farmland acreage at 41,759 acres since 1992
.The average farm is 38 acres, and the average farmer is 56 years old. Attracting new farmers tosustain the farming industry in the area is a challenge for local agriculture.
Seattle residents have increasingly participated in community gardens.There are now 70 gardens managed through the P-Patch Program, which encompasses 14 acresof land, 2,500 plots, and 5,000 urban gardeners, with a waiting list of 500. The aptly named“Lettuce Link” program provides 7-10 tons of fresh P-Patch produce to urban food banksannually. Community garden programs are lacking throughout the rest of King County.Efforts have begun to extend the benefits of community gardens to low-income and immigrantresidents. Marra Farm, a four-acre inner city farm in a largely Latino low-income Seattleneighborhood, is an inspiring model for the Collaborative (Appendix 6). It integrates communitydevelopment, local food production, and opportunities for physical activity while increasingaccess to fresh, inexpensive food. The site offers a place for social gatherings and physicalactivity. Cultivating Communities, a program within P-Patch, has partnered with immigrant andlow-income residents to create urban market gardens, youth gardens, and nutrition education programs.Interest in involving youth in gardening is increasing. School garden programs are beginning tointegrate gardening activities into curriculum. The Puget Sound School Gardens Collectiveconnects existing school garden programs and links them to other farm-to-table efforts.Homeless and under-served youth engage in garden-based education and employment, farm atMarra Farm, and sell produce in Seattle farmers’ markets through Seattle Youth Garden Works.Marketing and DistributionFamilies in King County are now able to purchase locally produced food in a number of venues.Locally produced food is contributing a growing share to the $108 million in dairy products and$120 million in vegetable products sold each year in King County
Families can shop at 28 farmers’ markets in King County, including ten inSeattle. Washington State farmers' market sales have increased 20% annually since 1997, withestimated total sales of $22 million in 2003. In 2005, Seattle farmers' markets alone totaled $3.5million in sales, and all county markets combined totaled more than $7 million. Farmers travelfrom all over the state to sell at King County farmers’ markets
. The Puget Sound Freshmarketing program promotes local farm products in King and eleven other counties in WesternWashington (Appendix 7). Farmers within King County participate in twelve CSA programs, 59market directly on the web through Puget Sound Fresh, and 51 farms and farmers’ markets selldirectly through the annual Puget Sound Fresh Farm Guide.
Families can find locally produced foods at many grocery retailers, including PCC Natural Markets, Whole Foods Markets, Safeway, Thriftway, QFC and Metropolitan Markets.PCC is the largest food cooperative in the country (40,000 members). In addition to buying fromlocal farms, PCC supports the local food system by participating in the Acting Food PolicyCouncil, and by operating a Farmland Trust to purchase and protect Washington State farmland.2