South Spokane Farm Corridor

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

Spokane County has a diverse landscape with over 1.1 million acres.  As one of Washington’s fastest-growing populations, we are losing farmland at an alarming rate.  In a recent 10-year period, we lost 106,000 acres of our prime farmland.  The City of Spokane is thought to have less than 200 acres of class one farm soils left and 48 acres are currently being petitioned for development of a 94 home development.  .

Due to the size of Spokane County, four geo-centric areas have been identified:  South Spokane Farm Corridor; West Plains Farm Corridor; Spokane Valley Farm Corridor; and the North Spokane Farm Corridor.  This funding would be used to fully develop a model corridor using the South Spokane Farm Corridor as the prototype.

 

PROJECT GOALS AND TIMELINES

The model would include three workshops, five farm tours, nine regular farmer-to-farmer meetings for information exchange, two farm-to-consumer events including a season starter and closing event, and marketing and social media materials such as signage and a website/app to identify and connect local urban farms and food to consumers.

The outcomes of the project would include a portable model for other areas, regions, and corridors to demonstrate educational opportunities to the community on the nutritional significance, environmental impact, and economic value of buying local, sustainably-produced farm products.

The information exchange between farmers and consumers will result in educated consumers.  Consumers/customers will know their farmers and know how their food is grown.   The consumer will be able to make the connection between nutrient-dense food and soil health and conservation practices.

The corridor concept will allow families, neighbors, visitors, and local farm and food producers to get to know how their local conservation district plays a role in regenerative farming principles, healthy soils, better-managed watersheds, and carbon sequestration.

The South Spokane Farm Corridor program is designed to “feed” off the success of our 2016 NACD Urban Agriculture Initiative.  As part of this request, we will establish a pilot project to expand and strengthen the collaboration between urban farmers where they will build a farm-to-farm community in a specific geo-centric corridor and also share information which will educate consumers about the importance and benefits of having and supporting a local food system in our urban areas.

View the entire list of farms, products for sale, and locations by visiting southspokanefarmcorridor.com!

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

In 2016, Spokane Conservation District received funding from the NACD Urban Ag Initiative which was successfully used to solidify a foundation for urban ag in Spokane County.  Project goals and outcomes included connecting people and organizations in the greater Spokane area who were active or interested in urban food production. The food production categories included urban farming, fruit and vegetable gleaning, community gardening, backyard small livestock, and backyard vegetable production and preservation.  This initial spark set in motion several projects, ordinances, and policies which will have a long-term impact on the viability of urban agriculture in Spokane County.

Many people interested in the venture of urban ag do not come from a farming background and lack the institutional knowledge of farm and food safety, soil health and nutrient dense food production, and water quality and quantity conservation.  At the same time, our agricultural land is under pressure from urban growth.   The delineation between urban areas and agricultural areas has become less clear.  The reality is that more of our food production will have to come from urban and smaller acreage enterprises.

Urban agriculture and small farm enterprises are a way to meet our local food demands while ensuring self-reliance and food access issues.  Seventeen census tracts in Spokane County have been designated as food deserts.   This lack of access to local, fresh, healthy food is a contributing factor to chronic diseases due to a poor diet.

Through this second round of funding, we would like to expand and develop the farmer-to-farmer connection as an information exchange to strengthen and deepen the knowledge base. As well, we want to build and promote the farmer-consumer relationship regarding our local food system and food security.  This funding would be used to fully develop a model corridor using the South Spokane Farm Corridor as the prototype and would provide the model to expand to at least three others in Spokane County.  The model would include three workshops, five farm tours, nine regular farmer-to-farmer meetings for information exchange, two farmer-consumer events including a season starter and closing event, and marketing and social media materials such as signage and a website/app to identify and connect local urban farms and food to consumers.