F2FP at Okanogan Community Action Council
Okanogan County Community Action Council (OCCAC), “Is a cornerstone of the community effort to end poverty through education and employment.” From July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 the OCCAC distributed about 900,000 pounds of produce thought its food pantries, serving 52,792 households in Okanogan County.
F2FP Grant: $2,000
Community Matching Grants: N/A
Harvesting Autumn Farm
DeLap Orchards is a family owned orchard and fruit stand in Malott. Delap Orchards was paid $500 for 800 pounds of produce, which included Golden and Granny Smith Apples.
Yonder Farms was paid $367 for 294 pounds of winter squash and pumpkins.
Iris Rock Farms
Iris Rock Farm was paid $77 for 77 pounds of butternut squash.
Q&A with Lael Duncan, OCCAC Executive Director
Q. What were the goals of the purchasing program?
A. To increase produce from local farms distrusted at local food pantries.
Q. What was the response of farmers when reaching out about the purchasing program?
A. The response was quite positive, but would have been better if we could have worked with the farmers earlier in the growing season (January for planning).
Q. How did you chose produce types and determine the prices with your farmers?
A. We attempted to provide fresh food in the fall and winter months when such produce is not as readily accessible.
Q. How did you purchase the produce?
A. We used primarily bulk purchasing, since that fit within the growers’ business model more easily than purchasing from a fresh sheet or other wholesale arrangement.
Q. What feedback have you gotten from the growers about the purchasing program?
A. Since we worked with orchardists who operate on a fairly large scale, these purchases in general are a small part of their business.
Q. Do you have any other suggestions for improvement going forth or general comments?
A. As indicated previously, working with growers earlier in their planning season would likely make the program more effective.
Q. What was the greatest success from the purchasing project?
A. Purchasing the pluots enabled our farmer to move this crop in a timely manner and get fresh food to our clients.
Purchasing the Golden Delicious apples and having them delivered to our emergency distribution center allowed clients who were also fire survivors to access fresh produce.
Q. What was the biggest surprise (or potential area of improvement) about partnering with growers for the purchasing project?
A. Not as much response from all the farmers I contacted as I had hoped for.
Q. Are there interests in expanding the purchasing program to other farms and/or markets?
A. Yes. Every bit helps
Q. Were the goals of the purchasing program achieved? Why/why not?
A. This was a strange growing year, and we had hoped for bigger harvests. The lack of a VISTA volunteer and mid-summer wildfires that devastated the region slowed our progress. Additionally, the area experienced a diminished harvest and the size of fruit was much smaller than normal due to early months of extreme heat and limited water for crop irrigation.