From: Orcas Island Community Foundation and San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild
The Orcas Island Community Foundation, in collaboration with the San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild (Ag Guild) FARM Fund, is excited to announce the distribution of $117,000 in grants to farms serving Orcas Island to increase production while giving back to the community and supporting local jobs. These grants were made possible by the extraordinary generosity of donors dedicated to the immediate scaling-up of agricultural production so we can make sure that every Orcas Island family in need has access to fresh local goods not only during the COVID-19 crisis, but for years to come.
“It was incredibly hard to choose from so many impressive proposals,” said Ag Guild Director Steph Coffey. “We greatly appreciate the opportunity the Orcas Island Community Foundation has provided to local farms to expand production to meet emergency food needs now and into the future.”
A nine-member committee vetted and ranked 30 proposals from farmers on Orcas and Waldron Island, with a total of $672,729 in requested funds. The committee ultimately selected four proposals from farmers who will increase their production and provide fresh, local farm products to the Orcas Food Bank and Orcas Island School District for free or significantly reduced cost, along with supplying other food access channels. The farms selected represent a significant increase in food production as well as diversity in their offerings. Recipients include: Maple Rock Farm ($55,828), Lum Farm ($30,394), Morningstar Farm ($25,000), and Rainbow Chicken Ranch ($5,778).
“In the past weeks the Orcas Island Food Bank alone has seen an over 200% increase. At the same time, our farmers, who normally sell to restaurants and the farmers markets are struggling to begin their season at all. This critical funding will allow four island farms to provide desperately needed food to island families for free or dramatically reduced costs, while supporting themselves and their employees,” said Hilary Canty, Executive Director of the Orcas Island Community Foundation.
The Orcas Island Community Foundation Community Emergency Response Fund (CERF) was created to raise critical support for the Orcas Island Community during a time of crisis. In the past 10 weeks it has raised $652,754 and granted $567,200 to organizations such as the Orcas Island Food Bank, OPAL Community Land Trust, the Orcas Senior Center and the Orcas Community Resource Center so that every islander has food, stays in their home, is safe and has the resources they need.
The FARM (Food, Agriculture, Relationships, Markets) Fund, a program now under the umbrella of the Ag Guild, was created in 2015 by the Orcas Food Co-op to support innovative projects that strengthen and develop local, sustainable agriculture in San Juan County and increase availability of healthy, local food. The FARM fund is actively seeking financing to fund additional grants to further support our farming community.