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Celebrating Black History Month

Although Black history and contributions to our community can and should be recognized every day of the year, Black History Month is a designated time to celebrate and acknowledge those contributions and legacies. This year we are celebrating Black History Month by centering Black stories of individuals and groups that have supported our food systems here in Washington.  

George Bush (~1790-1863)

George Washington Bush series, No. 3 (painting by Jacob Lawrence, 1973)  Courtesy Washington State History Museum

George Bush was a black pioneer and farmer from Pennsylvania who founded what is now Tumwater. Along with his family and trusted friends, Bush followed the Oregon Trail but were unable to settle in Oregon due to black exclusion laws when they arrived near the Columbia River in the fall of 1844. They decided to settle north of the Columbia River, when it was it was occupied by Great Britain and the United States. In 1845, Bush and his friends and family settled in what is now Tumwater, establishing the first American settlement in Washington State.  Being a skilled farmer, Bush was able to farm and harvest, and he set up the first grist mill and sawmill north of the Columbia River. These efforts helped grow the Tumwater community, supporting other emigrants hoping to settle in the region. He was also known for his generosity by sharing his seeds so other settlers could start their own farms.   

 The Treaty of Oregon was signed in 1846, making the area where Bush settled a part of the United States and meaning Black exclusion laws denied Bush the right to claim the land that he and his family settled on.   Thanks to his generosity and willingness to help other settlers, Bush was well known by Washington Territory legislators, and they successfully petitioned Congress on his behalf to grant Bush and his family legal ownership of his land. Later on in his life, Bush was able to purchase the first mower, a reaper, a thresher, and a separator in the area.  

Learn more about George Bush’s life and legacy.

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Seattle Black Panther Party (1968-1978)

Sign, Black Panther Party free breakfast program, Atlantic Street Center, Seattle, ca. 1969  HistoryLink Photo by Mary T. Henry

Established in 1968, the Seattle Black Panther Party was the first new chapter outside of California. One of the Black Panther’s successful programs and greatest impacts to the Seattle area was the free breakfast program, which party and community members considered as a “community survival program.” Started in 1969, the breakfast program quickly grew due to demand to three locations: Atlantic Street Youth Community Center located in the Central District, High Point housing project in West Seattle, Holly Park housing project in South Seattle. day.  

Read more about the Seattle Black Panther Party.

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Seattle Good Business Network: Restaurants step up to address food insecurity in their communities

Good Food Kitchens_Musang

King County restaurants were some of the businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Global supply chain disruptions and restrictions associated with the March 2020 “Stay Home Stay Healthy” order temporarily shut down indoor dining, leaving many restaurants scrambling to survive. At the same time, food insecurity across the region was on the rise.  

Seattle Good Business Network - a coalition made up of residents, local businesses, and non-profits - worked to address these issues during the pandemic. The network connects with and inspires people to buy, produce and invest locally.  The Good Food Kitchens initiative was aimed at alleviating the economic impacts of the pandemic.  

Read more about Good Food Kitchens

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Sign up now for a Community Supported Agriculture box

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Community Supported Agriculture, also known as CSAs, are a popular way for consumers to buy local seasonal food directly from a farmer. A CSA share, sometimes called a membership, is an offering that varies in size and product mix from farm to farm but is essentially a subscription of farm-fresh food that is either picked up or delivered on a regular basis. Shares are typically purchased for an entire season but some farms offer shares that are sold on a week-by-week basis. 

Farmers are making CSAs adaptable to customer needs, offering shares in various sizes and flexible pickup or delivery schedules; allowing consumers to make choices about what is put in their share, or partnering with other local producers to offer high quality add-ons. 

Some farmers also accept a wide range of payment types, such as credit card, personal checks, SNAP/EBT, PayPal and Venmo. 

Consumers experience many benefits when choosing to subscribe to a local CSA: 

  • High quality, fresh, nutritious food. CSA produce is often harvested within hours or days of delivery, meaning produce retains more nutritional value and stays fresher longer. 
  • A direct connection to producers. Consumers can directly ask producers about their growing practices and make choices to purchase from farmers that align with their values. 
  • Introduction to new varieties. CSAs offer what is plentiful and in season, which is a great way to get introduced to new crops you otherwise might not have tasted. 
  • Join a community. Becoming a part of a CSA connects you to likeminded consumers and allows you to participate in a more localized food system. This often includes the opportunity to participate in on-farm events for a farm’s “community” members. 

Purchasing a CSA membership is a powerful way to support local farmers and to enjoy ultra-fresh, locally grown food. 

To learn more about CSAs and to find one that is right for you visit Eat Local First, and don’t forget to sign up here. 

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