Farmers invited to apply for innovative on-farm project grant funds
(SKAGIT COUNTY)- An innovative grant program designed to assist small farms and local farmers is now accepting applications from interested farmers. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until all grant funds are committed.
Skagit County manages this project in partnership with Community Action of Skagit County, which operates the project in collaboration with a network of local farms and food banks. Skagit County and Community Action are seeking additional farm partnerships for the 2018 program year.
“We see value in investing in the success of local farms and investing in our community,” said Skagit County Public Health Director Jennifer Johnson. “Buying new equipment is expensive. Partnering with Community Action and local farmers to provide grants will help farmers succeed and provide quality food to our community.”
In 2016, Skagit County was awarded $900,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Economic Opportunity funds by the Washington State Department of Commerce for an innovative on-farm infrastructure project.
Agriculture is typically recognized as a key to Skagit County’s local economy. However, many small farms face significant challenges as they lack the infrastructure necessary to increase efficiency and gain profitability. At the same time, approximately one in four Skagit County families rely on local food banks to put food on their table.
The CDBG grant addresses both problems by providing financial support to low- and moderate-income farm business owners for on-farm infrastructure in Skagit and Whatcom counties. This infrastructure takes many forms, including equipment and supplies such as tractors and other farm equipment. In turn, farmers repay this financial assistance with cash and/or produce in lieu of cash repayments. Community Action’s Food Distribution Center coordinates and distributes this produce to area food banks and hot meal programs, yielding more food for families in need.
If a farmer chooses to repay assistance by cash, the funds will be used through the Skagit Food Distribution Center to help expand the amount of local food in Skagit’s food bank network. This project is intended to strengthen farmers, families, and the overall community.
For more information on the application process, contact Cole Bitzenburg, Skagit Food Distribution Center Coordinator, Community Action of Skagit County, 360-416-7585, ext 1189 or by email at ColeB@communityactionskagit.org.