F2FP at Clark County Food Bank
The Clark County Food Bank is a regional food bank which serves 6 million meals annually. From July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, CCFB distributed roughly 5.4 million pounds of food to 117,000 households.
F2FP Grant: $2,000
Community Matching Grants: $200
April Joy Farm is located on 24 acres near Ridgefield where they grow a variety of annuals and perennials as well as raising a heritage livestock. April Joy Farm was paid $700 for 382 pounds of produce, which included cauliflower, cucumbers, kohlrabi, melons, peppers, and tomatoes.
Green jungle farm is a small farm in Vancouver. The farm was paid $800 for 216 pounds of produce, which included Potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, garlic, tomatoes, zucchini, peas, corn, beans, herbs, eggplant, kale and some other greens, and onions as well as 32 dozens eggs at $6/dozen.
Roots to Roads is a garden managed by the nonprofit, Partners in Careers which provides job training and employment services. The majority of participants in the program are veterans. Roots to Roads was paid $475 for 1,900 pounds of produce, which included squash, peppers, corn, eggplant, tomatoes, green beans, peas, greens (kale, chard, collards, romaine), root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, radishes, onions). The program donated 852 pounds of produce after the purchasing contract was completed.
Wild Roots Farm is a small farm in Battle Ground that produces a variety of organically grown produce in addition to managing a herd of dairy goats. They were paid $475 for 3,268 pounds of produce, which included squash, cucumbers, green onions, tomatillos, green beans, and tomatoes. They donated 1,368 pounds of produce after the purchasing contract was completed.
Q&A with Mia Logg, Harvest VISTA
What were the goals of the purchasing program?
Our goals were to provide a reliable stream of fresh, locally-grown produce to our client base throughout the summer, to provide money to support local food producers, and to establish relationships between Clark County Food Bank and food producers that may help increase the amount of local produce we receive in the future.
Was the community matching fund helpful in creating a sustainable relationship?
It was helpful in allowing us to access new members of the community that might not otherwise have expressed interest in working with us.
What was the response of farmers when reaching out about the purchasing program?
They responded very positively to the program.One farmer told us that he gets calls from a lot of food pantries asking for produce donations, and that it was nice to be able to establish a different type of relationship with us.He also plans to donate pork to us later this year, so this has been a great way to establish new relationships.
How did you chose produce types and determine the prices with your farmers?
We took whatever produce the farmers chose to give to us, and asked for a price per pound from them to determine what they thought was fair. In the future we think it would be beneficial to try to get lower prices from some farmers if possible.
How did you purchase the produce?
We paid farms the contracted amount up front, then they dropped off produce throughout the growing season depending on what they had.
What feedback have you gotten from the growers about the purchasing program?
All of the farmers responded positively to the program and have expressed interest in participating again in the future. One farmer said it was a creative new way to get food into the food pantries and help our local community food system.
Do you have any other suggestions for improvement going forth or general comments?
As previously mentioned, we think it would be better for us to start the program sometime between December and early March, rather than the start of the growing season. Otherwise, this program has been very beneficial for us in establishing new community relationships. One partner from the pilot program last year has donated frequently to us at our farmers market donation station, and we think our partners from this year will continue to have a relationship with us in the future.
What was the greatest success from the purchasing project?
We think our most successful relationship is with the Partners in Careers Roots to Roads garden.Roots to Roads are extremely generous in the produce that they provide us, as their garden is more focused on skill development than project.
They give us a great variety of produce as well. Another, less conventional, success is a farmer who, while unable to provide us with the full amount of produce that we agreed upon, supplemented his produce with fresh eggs, and also plans to drop o pork from his farm.
What was the biggest surprise (or potential area of improvement) about partnering with growers for the purchasing project?
We think one area of improvement for us to make next time would be trying to negotiate better prices with growers. Since all of our partners were very small farms, we think it may have been difficult for some of them to offer us prices any lower than they did. However, we think $2 a pound is a lot to pay for some of the produce. For next year I think it would be good for us to think of alternative options for purchasing prices. Perhaps we can decide on certain varieties of produce that we would like to receive and determine prices for those specifically, rather than paying a baseprice for all varieties of produce. We also think growers would offer us better prices if we started the program in December through early March when they are still planning for the year, rather than once they’ve already started growing.
Are there interests in expanding the purchasing program to other farms and/or markets?
Yes! Other farmers expressed interest in joining when they heard about the program. Our current partners have also expressed a desire to begin the program in winter when they can better plan for getting produce to us.
Were those goals achieved? Why/why not?
We believe the goals were achieved, particularly in the final few months of the program. Each farm dropped o produce with us or one of our partner agencies at least twice a month. This was good because it allowed for a consistent supply of produce. It also added a lot of variety to the produce that we were already receiving or growing at our own food bank farm. Additionally, we were able to provide some monetary support to local small farmers which, while not a huge portion of their pro t, helped to open doors to farmers that might otherwise not be able to give food to a food bank. Having opened these doors, the majority of our farmers ended up donating more than the original agreed upon amount of produce.