Skagit County, Washington

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June 29, 2016

Farmers invited to apply for innovative on-farm project grant funds

An innovative new grant program aims to support local farmers, bolster local food production and – ultimately – give back to the Skagit County community.

“Small farmers want to provide quality local food to their communities, but many aren’t able to afford costly equipment or upgrades to their farms,” said Skagit County Public Health Director Jennifer Johnson. “The goal of this project is twofold: To invest in our local farms so they can be successful, and to invest in our community by building strong relationships between our farmers, our food banks and local families.”

Low- to moderate-income farm owners in Skagit County are invited to apply for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Economic Opportunity grant funding that will pay for on-farm infrastructure projects – such as irrigation, greenhouses, farm equipment or other improvements – and will help increase farm efficiency and improve profitability. There is no application deadline.

Skagit County and Community Action of Skagit County, in partnership with a network of local food banks, will distribute up to $900,000 in CDBG funds awarded by the Washington state Department of Commerce, and hope to assist at least 30 farms by the end of 2017. The maximum grant amount per farm is $35,000

In return for receiving grant funding, participating farms enter into a voluntary agreement with Community Action to pay back the grant by paying it forward to the community. Participating farms are asked to contribute an amount equal to their grant back to the Skagit Food Distribution Center in the form of produce or or cash donations in lieu of produce.  Community Action will distribute produce to area food banks and hot meal programs, and will use cash contributions to help expand the amount of local food in Skagit’s food bank network.

Application forms are available from Community Action of Skagit County in English, Spanish or other languages as requested. For more information about the grant requirements, contact Cole Bitzenburg, Community Action of Skagit County Food Distribution Center Coordinator, at 416-7585, ext  1189 or by email at ColeB@communityactionskagit.org.

Contact: Bob Hicks, Public Health Operations Manager, bobhicks@co.skagit.wa.us  360-336-9379