(continued from Summer Newsletter)
Spring was a tricky time in terms of bringing in Farm to Table orders due to flooding and low temperatures which lagged behind the seasonal norm. During this time, because of limited produce selections and fewer farms able to get product out of the ground, it was difficult for sites to meet minimum orders for delivery. But by mid June, Mother Nature had changed her tune, and Farm to Table orders are now briskly coming in! So far (since October) PSFN has coordinated direct sales for 6 PSFN Member farms resulting in 26 deliveries to 14 institutional sites as part of the Farm to Table project. Since mid-April, 8 daycare centers alone have purchased the bulk of produce from our farms! And the growing season is just getting started!
Impressed by the progress of the Farm to Table Project in child care settings, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn paid a special visit to Beacon Hill Community Day School to witness the site’s third Farm to Table delivery of fresh produce from PSFN member Full Circle Farm! This was the second visit by the Mayor to a F2T site this year! The Mayor first honored PSFN and the Farm to Table Project when he visited a delivery from Nash’s Organic Produce to Central Area Senior Center with U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan, in early March.
As the project develops over time, we learn more about the specific limitations of, and opportunities with, certain farms and meal sites. Since April we’ve learned from our meal site partners that – different from how global food economies work – geography really makes all the difference when connecting farms and meal sites locally. So, we’ve changed the way we do our fresh sheets, which now reflect only the farms that are able deliver into specific geographic areas within a set minimum order, and/or farms with pick up opportunities within only a few miles of a participating meal site. For example, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, based in Auburn, has been picking up their orders directly from at Mosby Brothers Farms (Auburn) and Carpinito Brothers (Kent). Now that’s LOCAL!
We’ve also begun to expand the meal providing agencies we’re working with! Working with Aging and Disability Services has put us in touch with Mt Si Senior Center, who we then connected with Full Circle Farm; and El Centro de la Raza and Sea Mar, who we connected with Viva Farms for specialty Oaxacan herbs and produce for traditional meals. Extending outside of the King County Area, we’ve been able to connect Snohomish Senior Services with Maltby Produce, and Suquamish Tribe with a Nash’s Organic Produce out on the Peninsula.
We’re also in Initial discussions with Farm to Table partners, King County housing Authority (KCHA) and Early Learning and Family Support (ELFS) division of Seattle Human Services, talking about a second child care pilot project. This second project will connect fresh produce with home-based child care providers (those who operate small businesses out of their own homes as opposed to at a center). We home to seen be able to create a customized CSA model which might bring more usable boxes of products to these programs (picture a box that’s 1/4 apples, 1/4 carrots, 1/3 peaches instead of one box of many products in small quantities).
We’re so pleased with the progress of the Farm to Table project so far, and are very fortunate to work with such committed, enthusiastic, and imaginative partners. We look forward to the what this busy growing season has in store for us, our partners, and the seniors and children who will reap the fresh, tasty benefit from the project this summer!