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Pilot project: Skagit retailers offering Farm Fresh Food boxes

Jun 5th, 2017 | Category: News

In an effort to make healthy, affordable food available in underserved areas, the WSU Skagit Extension is piloting a new project connecting farmers, retailers, and consumers. The Farm Fresh Food Box (FFFB) project is pairing farmers and small retailers in Marblemount, Burlington and Conway to provide a weekly box of fresh produce at designated retail sites that provide access to consumers.  image002

Similar to a CSA farm share, but without the upfront commitment and expense, this alternative will make available local produce in different size boxes to best meet the customer needs. Diane Smith, WSU Extension Food Access Specialist, is overseeing the project.

Well Fed Farms will be delivering to WD Foods on Chuckanut Drive and Fairhaven Market in Burlington; Waxwing Farm will drop off at Conway Chevron; and Blue Heron Farms will deliver to Choms Chevron in Marblemount. Each store will list the produce that will be available for the upcoming week for customers to preorder, then pick up at a designated day and time that is consistent with the harvest schedule.

Customers can pre-order advertised boxes at the retail site or online on a week-to-week basis for later pick-up. The items offered in the box will change throughout the season to make available produce that is most abundant.

This pilot project is funded by USDA with WSU Skagit partnering with a team in three participating states: Vermont, Washington, and California. FFFB addresses the complex supply, demand, and distribution challenges faced by producers and retailers of fresh local foods, while overcoming barriers that consumers face in accessing affordable, healthy food.

This low-risk strategy will determine if rural economies can benefit by providing rural grocery stores and convenience stores with easy access to stocking fresh, local produce without overhead costs, increased foot traffic and creating opportunities for additional sales, according to Smith. It also provides farmers with an additional and new direct-marketing opportunity, and offers a different approach for consumers who are unable to pay for a season’s produce up-front or may be uncomfortable shopping at a farmers market.

The first weekly deliveries of Farm Fresh Food Box will by around June 15 in Conway and Burlington/Bow, and June 30 in Marblemount. Check with the local stores for a list of farm box items, or contact Diane Smith at diane.smith@wsu.edu or (360) 428-4270 ext. 235 for more information.

–WSU Skagit Extension

 

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