Elk Run Farm harvests first crop, more to come

Most folks were grumbling about the rain yesterday, but not those involved in the first harvest at the Elk Run Farm. The Elk Run Farm is no ordinary farm. Located on four acres of a former golf course in Maple Valley, the produce harvested on the farm will supply the South King County Food Coalition’s twelve food banks with fresh, local produce.

Elk Run Farm_ croppedOver fifty people participated in the first harvest, including Elk Run Farm staff, community leaders from local Rotary clubs and food banks, neighborhood volunteers and staff from Public Health – Seattle & King County and Department of Natural Resources and Parks.

In the past year and a half, volunteers have helped clear the land, installed a water pump, and built beds and other farm structures. Volunteers planted the recently harvested garlic last October, along with cover crops of buckwheat to enrich the soil and prevent erosion. According to Farm Manager Maria Anderson, garlic is just the beginning. Students from Auburn Mountain View High School’s Horticulture program grew tomato starts for the farm in their green house. Over the summer, the farm will also grow peppers, tomatillos, carrots, and other vegetables typically found at a farmers market. The farm also has plans to expand onto their remaining acreage with berries and fruit trees.

Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Director Patty Hayes and Bob Burns, Deputy Director from Department of Natural Resources and Parks had the honor of participating in the first harvest event.

“Elk Run Farm is an inspiring example of what can happen when we bring community members, experts in the local food system and Public Health together to ensure our highest-need community members have equal access to healthy food,” said Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Engaging communities and schools

Elk Run contributes more to the South King County community than just produce. The farm engages students and local volunteers to learn about farming and food systems, and come together to help people in need.

“This farm needs to be a place not just to grow food, but to come together as a community,” said Anderson.

For example, in the fall of 2017, students in an award-winning horticulture program at Tahoma High School will be able to volunteer and learn at Elk Run without even crossing the street—a tunnel under the road, leftover from the property’s former life as a golf course, leads directly from the new school campus to the farm.

Come join the effort

Elk Run is designed to accommodate large groups of volunteers: the many short beds and wide center pathway make it easy for lots of people to work together efficiently. The farm hosts drop-in hosts work parties every Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm.