Summer into Fall

As we settle into a Pacific Northwest fall and winter, we can’t help but look back on the busy, productive summer we had on the farm. August and September are always the busiest harvest months of the year for us. Cucumber, summer squash, green beans, and tomatoes all need to be picked every two or three days to stay productive, so our volunteers participated in three harvests a week at the peak of the season.

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Cucumbers and squash, (both members of the Cucurbit family) were our most prolific vegetables by weight. Most days we harvested over 100 pounds from that section of the field! We finally figured out how to grow really nice carrots this year, and we grew some of the biggest carrots any of us have ever seen. Other highlights include weekly strawberry and raspberry harvests, some beautiful eggplants, and ‘Prize Choy’ bok choy that has never failed us, regardless of what time of year we plant it.

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Last eggplant harvest of the season

As we pull plants out of the field at the end of the season, like the tomatoes we cut down a month ago, we are seeding cover crop. Our winter cover crop is mix of cereal rye and hairy vetch (with a scattering of peas for tender shoots in the spring). Together, this cover crop mix provides a multitude of benefits for our farm ecosystem. The plants in our specific mix suppress weed growth, fix nitrogen in the soil for fertilizer, create lots of plant material that we will compost to feed the soil in the future, and prevent erosion from the rain and wind we always get in the winter on the farm. The process of putting most of the farm to bed for the winter is always a little bittersweet, but after such a busy growing season, we (the soil and the farmers) are all ready for a little break.

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Elk Run Farm has a matching gift of $20,000 on the table! Will you help us reach our goal?

20180115_130001Elk Run Farm has some exciting news: a private donor has agreed to match up to $20,000 in donations! After hearing all of our exciting plans for 2018, this donor challenged us to make a call for action to our community to match this gift dollar for dollar. From now until June, every dollar gifted to the farm will be doubled and help us build Elk Run Farm up to its full potential.

South King County is home to many census tracts that have extremely limited access to nutritious, affordable foods, including fruits and vegetables. Our food banks also struggle with this lack of access and fresh produce has become more of a luxury than a norm for communities that visit the food banks. Much of the fruits and vegetables that are donated to food banks are deemed unsellable by grocery stores, are a couple days away from the compost and are low in nutrition. Our food banks believe that everyone, regardless of income, deserves access to sustainably-grown, high quality fruits and vegetables. They wanted to change what they could offer to their clients.

20170804_105528In 2015, Elk Run Farm was born to do just that. All the produce we grow goes directly to our member food banks, and into clients’ homes in a matter of days. We’ll let our clients speak for themselves on how the farm has impacted their lives. One client, after receiving Swiss chard from our free farm stand, said, “You know what I will do with all this produce? Just throw it all together with some oil and garlic and stir fry it. This is really good stuff, you could sell it. This MADE my week!”

20170708_132548.jpgNow, we have a full growing season under our belt with several key infrastructure pieces in place. Our volunteers have helped us reached 10 different food banks in our region and have donated about 17,000 serving sizes. And the farm is still growing! This winter, a construction crew working right next to our parking lot set us up with a new field that has doubled our growing space. We’re working with 90+ high school students and a variety of youth groups to provide hands-on education about sustainable farming. With all this growth though, we are still not where we need to be. Our farm infrastructure still needs support so we can better serve our food bank clients and students.

With your gift, we can finish the infrastructure at Elk Run Farm. Will you donate $25 or more so we can reach our goal of $20,000 and receive the full match? Building up our farm infrastructure means more produce in the food banks, a more authentic farm experience for students and volunteers, and a stronger local food system. This money will pay for:

  • a well pump installationIMG_20180222_131024_241
  • electricity
  • a completed in-ground irrigation system
  • a farm-scale composting system
  • a walk-in cooler

Your gift will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, until June. So please consider donating now and doubling your gift! As a token of our appreciation, all donors who give $50 or more will receive a small jar of honey from our very first bee hives (while supplies last).

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Your support provides these major benefits:

  • Food bank clients have a long-term source of fresh, high quality produce, grown just for them and based on their preferences
  • Volunteers are connecting to each other, their community, and reconnecting to a food growing tradition
  • High school students get hands-on urban farming experience, and directly impact families experiencing hunger in their community
  • More food grown in South King County stays in South King County, helping build a more resilient local food system

Through your gift to Elk Run Farm, you support South King County as a place of abundance for food bank clients and the broader farm community.

To donate, visit our fundraiser or contact us at (813) 509-0105. We’d be happy to answer any questions.

Thank you for your unwavering support and friendship!

Love,

The Elk Run Farm Team

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Spring Updates

The farm is FINALLY starting to feel like a real farm. We have made so much progress on key pieces of infrastructure in the last month that I still find myself looking around in wonder.

We had another amazing AmeriCorps NCCC team out this year, for 2 ½ weeks, and the progress that they made has surpassed every expectation that I had for them.

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Notes from the Field: Seeds of Hope

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10,000 years ago, humans started farming, and it fundamentally changed our relationship with the world around us. When we left behind a nomadic life, and stayed in one place long enough to see a crop from planting to harvest, it led to the creation of towns, cities, governments, and all the other things that go into a stationary community. At the heart of all that change was seeds.

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