Turning a putting green into farm greens: A hole-in-one for South King County food banks

Future Possible Growing (3)While a golf course and a food bank seem like an unlikely pair, opportunities to build partnerships in South King County have no boundaries. A new partnership will transform four acres of the former Elk Run golf course in Maple Valley into a farm with produce going directly to food banks in South King County.

The food banks of the South King County Food Coalition (SKCFC) are working to reduce food bank dependence on donated foods and increase their offering of fresh produce so that low-income families have greater access to healthy foods.

The approach is possible thanks to creative thinking by SKCFC leaders, willingness by owners to lease a portion of their property, and technical assistance from Public Health through the federal Partnerships to Improve Community Health grant.

“This is a groundbreaking partnership with the private sector to address a community need. ” said Kris Van Gasken, President of the South King County Food Coalition and Executive Director of Des Moines Area Food Bank. “While all of our food banks give out a lot of produce, we know we are not meeting the need.  And much of what we give is at the end of its shelf life.  This farm will give our food banks a chance to provide freshly picked, local produce that has been ripened in the field to families in need in South King County. It just doesn’t get any better than that!”

The produce will be distributed amongst members of the South King County Food Coalition which includes White Center, Tukwila, Burien, SeaTac, Normandy Park, Des Moines, Federal Way, Renton, Kent, Auburn, Vashon-Maury Island, Maple Valley and Enumclaw.

A key focus will be engaging community members to become involved in the farm and to sustain it over time. Plans include developing educational programming and volunteer opportunities by recruiting participation from job-creation programs, farm certification programs, local schools, AARP, United Way, area churches and service clubs.

Read more about the innovative partnership in the Maple Valley Reporter article here.