Letter | WHERE ARE THE FARMERS?

Dear Editor

Shouldn’t a Farmers Market have at least one farmer? Over the past few weekends I’ve visited several area Farmers Markets where food trucks outnumbered farmers and in one case there weren’t any farmers at all.  What gives?

Most of us know farming organically is an intensive labor of love requiring dedication, long hours bent over tending the soil and plants, and a savvy business sense. Add to that the soaring cost of land, plethora of rules and regulations; competition from big agri-business, and the difficulty of finding seasonal full and/or part-time farm help especially when high wage, low skill jobs are plentiful in the city. Right now, today, several of our local Snoqualmie Valley farmers are unable to fill many of the farm labor positions they have. Help wanted advertisements go unanswered, interview appointments cancelled, and farmers face the daunting prospect of having a field full of crop without help to harvest.

Competition from large-scale industrial farms place local farmers in a difficult predicament with organic produce readily available in supermarkets at loss-leader prices, essentially cutting the local farmer out of some markets. Furthermore recent efforts by the USDA to muddy the waters by proposing a new brand/logo for producers of genetically modified foods (or bioengineered, BE for short) depicting a cartoonish image with a happy face will make it more confusing for consumers seeking local, healthy, organic and non-genetically engineered produce in the supermarket or veggie stand.

Despite the challenges farmers are tenacious.

In the spirit of collaboration and unity local Snoqualmie Valley (minutes east of Seattle) farmers teamed up to create a joint venture, the Snoqualmie Valley Farmers Cooperative, where they can work together to join forces and market their locally grown vegetables to local Seattle area consumers though a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. This technique and program allows a little breathing space to focus on farming rather than marketing and selling.

The CSA model has community supporters buy a membership for a season of vegetables directly from the farmer or cooperative at a fair and sustainable price; the farmer gets a reliable annual source of income for their produce and the customer gets fresh, wholesome and delicious produce delivered to their neighborhood. It’s a win-win situation. The Snoqualmie Valley Farmers Cooperative offers a 20 week CSA Veggie Box (with fruit and egg add-on’s available) beginning June 28th through mid-November.

To learn more and sign-up visit: http://snovalleycoop.com/store

 

Brad Johnson

General Manger, Snoqualmie Valley Farmers Cooperative

Comments

  1. Kim Harmeling says:

    While I agree that a CSA is an important tool for small, rural, farmers to get their produce to consumers, it is unfortunate that this letter, while making a valid point, is basically an advertisement for our local CSA rather than an examination of the problem identified in the title of the letter. Where indeed are all the local farmers at the Farmer’s Market? Last year any kind of produce stand, and some were from Eastern WA not the Valley, was outnumbered by hot food vendors, jewelers, mass-produced photography and assorted other miscellany. Don’t get me totally wrong, the occasional food vendor is okay and picking up dinner from a local purveyor while shopping the market is very nice. That said, it would be terrific to see more local vendors of local produce, flowers, baked goods, handmade items, and representatives of local small businesses. It’s what we go to the Farmer’s Market to see, and what I want to spend money on.

  2. the problem is labor to harvest! No young adults (in that area) will work for minimum wage, especially doing hard physical labor. The Latinos in the area have decent jobs or landscape companies where they earn 20.00 or more per hour. Maybe have all of the pampered kids (on the ridge) in the area be required to spend 20 hours of “community service” at the farms? This would be a great chance to learn about local history and also discover that produce is actually grown and simply not just purchased at the grocery store!

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