New farm grant will expand "Food to Bank On" program

Sustainable Connections is one of 25 programs that has received funding from the Washington State Department of Agriculture through federal farm grants.

The organization’s two-year, $96,600 grant—which will be combined with matching funds—will be used to expand a beginning farmer training project called “Food to Bank On.”

The project is part of Sustainable Connections’ Food and Farming program.

The grant will also help expand marketing support for local farmers who sell direct to consumer through community supported agriculture farm shares.

A 2011 survey of workplace CSA participants showed Sustainable Connections’ support of the system helped generate $110,000 to $150,000 in sales to local farmers.

“Workplace connections to local and healthy food raised by area farmers have synergistic economic and wellness benefits” said Laura Ridenour, Sustainable Connections’ food and farming manager, in a press release. “This grant will support our work and help farmers meet changing marketplace demands with enhanced communication and marketing tools, and engage the area’s employers in the benefits of workplace CSAs.”

With new funding, the organization plans to conduct a census of CSA shares in Whatcom County, document the best practices from the perspective of farmers and employers offering workplace shares, as well as produce a series of “know your farmer” videos.

Sustainable Connections Food and Farming program represents more than 220 food and agriculture producers in Whatcom and Skagit counties.

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