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$1.5 million in grants support WA local food infrastructure; $127k to San Juan County

  • Written by Eric Tegethoff

 

Washington News Service: Washington state has allocated nearly $1.5 million in grants to support local food systems and supply chains. The Washington State Department of Agriculture distributed the funds to 40 projects, supporting farmers, food and meat processors, and distributors.

Three grants were awarded to San Juan County entities - San Juan Islands Food Hub Marketplace: $71,000; Lopez Food Center Marketplace: $45,000; Seagate Farm Specialty Crop: $11,305. Details below. 


Galen Van Horn, local food system and supply chain specialist with the Washington State Department of Agriculture directed distribution of the funds and said there has been consolidation in the large-scale market that small and mid-sized operations can combat.

"We've just seen a clear need for investment to support those small and mid-sized operations and make sure the infrastructure is scaled to meet their needs, and that we don't just have very, very large food system infrastructure - like processing facilities and aggregation points - that are only really scaled for very large farms and food businesses," he explained.

The seeds of the program began in 2021, when the Washington Legislature distributed federal COVID-19 recovery funds to support local food infrastructure because of the pandemic's impact on supply chains. Since 2023, the Local Food System Infrastructure Grant program has distributed $8 million in state funds.

Van Horn said the program is popular and received nearly $19 million in requests - well over what it could provide. One project that was selected, however, was the nonprofit Columbia Community Creamery, which received more than $450,000.

"They got a large grant to get the equipment necessary to receive bulk milk deliveries, and then process that into jars and have it ready to be consumed. A lot of food safety involved there," he continued.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture expects to start the next application round in the summer or fall of next year. Van Horn said the agency looks for proposals that impact the regional food system, are achievable and ask for a reasonable amount of money.


San Juan Islands Food Hub Marketplace: $71,000

Insulated, refrigerated van to safely transport produce, dairy, meat, flowers, and eggs between three islands in San Juan County and to the mainland for 28 producers and other food businesses increasing food safety, meeting increased market demand, and expanding storage and transport capacity thus building a more resilient food transport system in San Juan County.

Lopez Food Center Marketplace San Juan: $45,000 Architecture  and engineering expenses services needed to prepare documents for submission to the San Juan County Planning Department to obtain construction permits for the Lopez Food Center.  

 

Seagate Farm Specialty Crop: $11,305

Build an earth bag root cellar for natural cold storage for our own and San Juan Island Grange members stone fruit, berries, quince, nuts, and vegetables until they can be transported to various buyers throughout Washington state.