Programs > Regional Food System Program

King Conservation District
Regional Food System Program

In 2015, the King Conservation District established a new Regional Food System Program based on goals in the action plans of the King County Local Food Initiative and the Puget Sound Regional Food Policy Council, and on personal engagement with a wide range of local food system advisors. Drawing on this community input, KCD began implementing a series of initiatives that have and will continue to contribute to the economic viability of local farmers, encourage more new farmers, expand acreage in food production, improve food access, and increase demand for local farm products through marketing and outreach.

The 2015 Work Program included a series of Early Action Projects and the launch of a new
KCD Regional Food System Grant Program. Each of these elements is outlined below.

The King Conservation District hit the ground running with a series of Early Action Projects based on the following criteria:

Recommended Early Actions
Infrastructure Support: gaps in available farm infrastructure, especially for entry level/ small scale farms were identified as a critical focal area for this program.  Farmers in particular asked us to purchase and loan out the below equipment to help address production challenges:

  1. Farm Equipment Loan - $50,000

    Small Scale Chicken Processing - Several Conservation Districts in the region make small scale processing equipment available for on farm chicken processing.  King County farmers had been on waiting lists for the Pierce Conservation District processor for some time. KCD acquired the poultry processing equipment and trailer in January 2016 and it will be housed at the Issaquah Grange Supply and available in late February through the KCD’s Equipment Loan Services.  Having this equipment available in King County will enable small flock chicken farmers to bring poultry to market.

  2. No-Till Drill - This seeding implement enables farmers to overseed forage, hay, and cover crops into the ground without having to plow the soil in advance.  This saves time and money and is recognized as a critical tool for reducing soil erosion and for sequestering carbon in the soil, a key role for farmers in addressing climate change. KCD will acquire the Eco-Drill in early March 2016 and it will be housed at the KCD lot in Renton.

One-Stop-Shop Farm Services Coordination Project - $50,000 
New and experienced farmers have shared that navigating the current public, non-profit, and commercial support services for farming can be frustrating because these services are often not well coordinated. This project is integrating these different support systems so that new and continuing farmers can get holistic farm services support – One-Stop-Shop.  This effort involves the many vital services that currently exist for topics such as marketing, financing, production, conservation, and permitting, and will address the known gaps in these key support areas. The new online resource will be launched in early 2016.

Institutional Local Purchasing Best Practices/ Case Study - $25,000
KCD is developing an online resource for institutions interested in sourcing local food to be able to find producers who are operating on a scale to meet institutional demand.  KCD is building on the past and current work of local food-oriented organizations, including partnering with King County, the NW Agricultural Business Center, Seattle Tilth, Health Care without Harm, and others to ensure that the tools are relevant, user-friendly, and adaptable.  A kick-off event for institutional food service buyers will be held in early spring.

Farmer’s Market Coordinator Support - $50,000
This project established a successful peer-to-peer support system for market managers to help increase adoption of best market management practices and coordinated marketing strategies, with goals to increase participation of local farmers, and to expand purchasing options for low-income shoppers through EBT Sales and Fresh Bucks programs. A key development, farmers market managers agreed that any Fresh Bucks currency can be accepted at any participating market.  This will allow for a broader and more consistent marketing campaign in 2016.

Model Farm Cooperative - $10,000
King County has its first farmers’ cooperative, which grew from two to five farms in its first year and to 14 farms in its second year. The Snoqualmie Valley Farmers Cooperative launched a successful 15-week CSA program in coordination with Evergreen Signature Care (23 patient subscribers) and the local community (10 subscribers). The Co-op provided outreach and education each week with nutrition information, recipes, produce handling instructions, and events.  For 2016, the Co-op secured an agreement with Evergreen to open up the CSA program to all 3,000 hospital employees.  Additionally, the Co-op will serve as a model in the future for other farmers across King County.

Auburn Good Food Bag - $10,000
Support to build on 2014’s development of a community-based food access partnership among the Auburn Food Bank, the Auburn International Farmers Market, Seattle Tilth, Washington Community Action Network, and King Conservation District, and use that partnership to build out a more robust food access delivery model. Results of the Early Action project include distribution of 400 Good Food Bags of produce, serving over 260 individuals in the city of Auburn, expanding to two new distribution sites allowing the project to reach a broader geographic area, and reaching more priority populations. The project was also able to begin accepting EBT payments for Good Food Bags, increasing accessibility to many low-income families.

Information Gathering Support – $40,000
Build capacity to develop solid baselines against which to measure KCD Regional Food System Grant projects, other KCD programs, and other partner agency efforts.

Translation Capacity - $15,000
Build capacity to develop culturally relevant engagement with immigrant populations and emerging farmers through partnerships with organizations developing similar resources.

The KCD Regional Food System Grant Program is based on action plans of the King County Local Food Initiative and the Puget Sound Regional Food Policy Council. The program funds food system-related projects with demonstrated public benefit and a link to improving working 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 King County farm products. Eligible applicants include farmers, producer networks, marketing cooperatives, farmers markets, businesses, schools, special districts, nonprofit organizations, tribes, and jurisdictions within the KCD service area. Grant guidelines and application procedures are currently being developed, along with the following selection criteria.

For information about the KCD Regional Food System Grant Program email: