These times are very difficult for much of our community and in an effort to provide immediate support for our farming community North Olympic Land Trust is teaming up with partners to create the Olympic Peninsula Farmers Fund. Along with North Olympic Development Council, Jefferson Land Trust, and WSU Extension we are seeking to raise $50,000 that will be quickly distributed to local farms in Clallam and Jefferson County. Farms selected will be those that need a little help to weather this time when farmer’s markets and restaurants are closed and distribution chains disrupted. Participating farms will receive these funds in the range of $1,500 – $5,000 as pre-payments for nutritious food they will then provide to local food banks over the new few years.
The goals for the program, to be overseen by the North Olympic Development Council, are to support our local farms now while providing food banks with a steady supply of fresh local food over the long haul.
We hope you will join us TODAY in supporting this effort. We know that some people are dealing with financial uncertainty in this moment. If this isn’t a good time for you to donate, we completely understand. If you can, we’d love your help! The North Olympic Development Council will start distributing the funds within a month.
Give now by clicking here and choosing “Olympic Peninsula Farmers Fund.”
This program was modeled after a similar program of the Community Action of Skagit County. To seek funds, an application period will open shortly in which local farms can fill out a simple application and seek support. Funds will be allocated by a small selection committee and distributed as quickly as possible, with the first funds going out by May 22.
Through outreach to our community’s farms, we’re learning that many of the programs designed to help small businesses, aren’t a great match for our farmers. Farms weren’t eligible for the first round of SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (this has been fixed in the second round) and in many cases the other federal programs designed to help small businesses, such as the Payroll Protection Program, aren’t a good fit as this is not the time of year when most of our farms have big payroll needs. Their needs are different.
These modest pre-payments on behalf of our local food banks are right-sized to provide our small farm businesses with needed capital today and provide our food banks with a steady supply of locally produced food.
In recent outreach to farms, here are a few actual stories we’re hearing:
- We rely on farmers markets and restaurants for 65% of our sales every year. With the farmers markets either closed or just starting to re-open in a limited way we’ve lost a lot of revenue and we don’t know when or if there will be restaurant orders, or in what volume.
- We sell mostly to retailers on the Olympic Peninsula and throughout Western Washington and also have a farm stand. Our sales went up at first and we thought we would be ok but as people have stayed home more sales have slowed down at most sites and some stores have closed completely so we are being impacted now.
- Our CSA and farm stand sales have been great but restaurants are a big part of our income every year and we’re concerned about what will happen there.
- We buy fruit trees and berry plants to sell at farmers markets every year along with plant starts that we grow. Those sales provide income until we have produce to sell at markets and to restaurants. This year we had already bought the trees and plants when Covid-19 shut down the markets so we haven’t been able to re-sell what we bought to even cover our costs. We’re also worried about what will happen with our restaurant accounts.
If you are a farmer and would like more information on how to seek support from this program or for more information on this emerging program, please contact Karen Affeld at the North Olympic Development Council. (firstname.lastname@example.org)