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Executive Constantine invests in local food economy with plan to protect 13,500 acres of farmland

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As part of his Land Conservation Initiative, King County Executive Dow Constantine has committed to protecting 13,500 acres of farmland that the growing region will need to sustain a local food economy, promoting equitable access to nutritious, locally grown goods.

Alongside farmers and chefs, Executive Constantine today announced early progress toward his goal of protecting 13,500 acres of farmland needed to strengthen the local food economy, adding it to the 16,000 acres that the county has preserved over the past 40 years.

Many of the fresh goods that residents purchase at farmers markets, groceries, and restaurants today are grown on farmland that King County has protected with its successful Farmland Preservation Program. Executive Constantine included farmland in the Land Conservation Initiative to help ensure that future generations have equitable access to nutritious, locally grown food as the population grows and the cost of land rises. 

Read more about the Farmland Preservation Program and check out a Farmland Preservation map here. 

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Matsuda Farm growing food and community on Vashon Island

Matsuda Farm

On a typical day, you can find Caitlin Ames harvesting vegetables, guiding interns and volunteers, and generally keeping tabs on the ever-evolving to-do list at Matsuda Farm, where they have been manager for five years.

Matsuda Farm was once a single-family operation, purchased by the Matsudas in the 1920s and farmed by them for decades. During this time, the family faced restrictions on immigrant land ownership and a forced stay at internment camps in California and Idaho during WWII. On the farm, they saw major success, especially with berry crops, but ultimately made the decision to transition the land into less time-intensive hay fields which is how it remained for many years.

Then, in 2016, the Matsuda family approached Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust about preserving the land for agriculture in perpetuity. This generous decision paved the way for the Trust’s innovative and community-minded approach to growing and distributing local food.

Read more about Matsuda Farm and how it's growing the local food system on Vashon Island.

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King County joins West Coast states and cities to reduce food waste

Pacific Coast Collaborative

According to the nonprofit ReFED, over a third of food products in the U.S. went to waste in 2019. From crops that are unharvested, to grocery stores that stock excess inventory, to shoppers who buy more than they can use, food waste propels climate change and harms the budgets of key players in our food system.

In addition to consumer strategies to waste less food, such as proper food storage – like freezing or canning produce bought from the farmers market – grocery retailers can have a significant impact on the problem, too.  This May, King County signed onto a regional effort focused on the retail side of food waste. The Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC) Food Waste Commitment is part of a broader goal to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 across the region.

Emily Coleman, Sustainable Purchasing Specialist, represents King County at PCC meetings. She often collaborates with the Local Food Initiative on its food waste reduction goals and sat down with us to share her experience with PCC and King County’s other efforts to send less food to landfills. 

Read more about the Pacific Coast Collaborative and King County's efforts to reduce food waste.

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