Cold pressed cider. Small batch granola. A box full of farm fresh berries and greens. Localists, look no further: The newly aggregated Washington Food and Farm Finder features 1,700 farms, farmers markets, and food vendors with offerings “grown, caught, raised, or made” across the state.
The push to buy local is nothing new, but this year Washingtonians took that interest to the next level. Sheryl Wiser of the Tilth Alliance, a statewide coalition of food systems professionals, says in an email, “The pandemic only accelerated what all of us knew—over the years, there has been a steady demand for local food in Washington.” She attributes this year’s uptick in community supported agriculture (CSA) subscriptions and online shopping to a combination of people’s desire to support local businesses and the need to trust their food without worrying about retail shortages or many layers of contact in the supply chain.
Under the Eat First Local Collaborative, regional partners from across the food system consolidated various online maps into a searchable platform to more efficiently match supply and demand. The Washington Food and Farm Finder, launched in mid-November, includes filters for pickup or delivery services, markets, food trucks, or specialty food and beverage locales. Icons designate sustainable fishing or animal welfare certifications, as well as veteran-, woman-, and BIPOC-owned businesses.
The map is still filling in, but the low barrier to entry for vendors, who are only required to purchase from two or more local suppliers per month, means consumers still have to do some sifting for rigorously local stuff. In Seattle, shoppers can find most farmers markets and some 100 percent made-in-Washington early additions to the map, like Elsom Cellars wine. Other pins may not be what locavores are looking for, which is where the filters come in handy.
Either way, the map is a solid resource to find, say, CSA farms near Seattle. Users might land on mission-driven organizations like Viva Farms, a business incubator offering bilingual training for organic farmers in Spanish and English, or Oxbow Farm, which hosts educational programs to introduce young Washingtonians to the wild as well as restoration research projects in partnership with King County.
If you have a favorite by-and-for Washington vendor to add, let them know to simply register through an online form and pin their location to the map, with free registration through 2021. For the holidays, the Eat First Local Collaborative partners put together a holiday gift guide and holiday food and farm finder for wreaths, eggnog, mulling spices, and more.
“Farmers are resilient,” says Micha Ide of Bright Ide Acres, a farm in Orting, “but they need the support of their local communities to ensure their success.”