Families of South King County need increased access to fresh produce to address food insecurity and resulting health issues such as obesity and diabetes. Many parts of the region have a high percentage of low-income families coupled with low access to healthful foods. The food banks of South King County serve over 9,000 different families every month in a region where half of children across nine school districts qualify for federal meals.
Elk Run Farm is a partnership between the 12 food banks of the South King County Food Coalition, Seattle-King County Public Health, Rotary First Harvest, WSU Extension, Highline College, Tahoma High School and Auburn Mt. View High School that addresses inequitable access to healthy foods for low-income families while promoting sustainable urban agriculture and new markets for local produce. Produce grown at Elk Run Farm, a former golf course, will be distributed through South King County food banks to those in the community who can least afford it and live in areas where access to healthy food is limited.
Besides growing good food, Elk Run Farm strives to include the populations it services in positive health outcomes through education and outreach. Partnering with local schools in Maple Valley, Kent, Auburn, etc., Elk Run Farm will directly address barriers to education, health, and success in the local youth community through onsite programming. By developing a farm that brings underutilized land into production and engages youth in agriculture, Elk Run Farm will increase access to healthy food among limited-income communities.
Elk Run Farm is an opportunity to demonstrate how land can be repurposed in the middle of modern developments, promoting environmental sustainability and the local food systems. Whether it is increasing access to healthy foods to low-income families, educating volunteers and food bank clients to become new consumers, providing job skills, marketing and entrepreneurship skills to students, or by connecting food banks with farmers selling highly nutritious foods, Elk Run Farm is empowering the community to make healthy choices on all levels.