Eat Local First expands local food and farm finder
The Eat Local First Collaborative has expanded the Washington Food & Farm Finder, connecting consumers with food that is grown, caught, raised, and made by Washington growers and producers, and has now included a wholesale food finder to the online tool.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture assisted with the tool that provides detailed information on over 40 local farms, farmers, and food access within Grays Harbor and Pacific County.
The tool first went live in November 2020, offering a searchable statewide map that helps farmers, food businesses, and food resources of all sizes — including producers of agricultural products such as wool and flowers, farmers markets, food hubs, and others — by connecting them with Washington consumers.
Consumers, including school districts and other institutions, can in turn use the tool to find locally grown and produced products in 37 counties throughout Washington state.
In late October, the Washington Food & Farm Finder added the “Find a Wholesale Vendor” tab to better assist school districts and other institutions trying to source locally grown produce.
Washington is one of just five states without a state-endorsed branding program to promote local foods.
“WSDA and the Eat Local First Collaborative are working to address that gap, making it easier for farms and food businesses to market their products to public institutions and consumers by creating a listing. Using the tool is free for farms, food businesses, and others to list themselves on the simple-to-use platform. Already, more than 1,700 farms, food businesses, and other listings are featured, and the number is growing rapidly.”
This summer, WSDA’s Farm to School and Food Assistance programs partnered with the Collaborative to further develop the tool’s wholesale product finder.
WSDA provided $30,000 to cover the costs of developing the wholesale tool, designed with school districts in mind. The “Find a Wholesale Vendor” tab can help them find, connect with, and buy from local wholesale food producers and food businesses. These institutional buyers can search listings by city name, Zip code, category, product, distribution method, delivery area, and more.
Visit eatlocalfirst.org to view the newly developed tool.
WSDA Director Derek Sandison said tools like this are an important part of a resilient food system and ongoing relief efforts for farmers, ranchers, food businesses, institutions, and people experiencing hunger.
“During the pandemic, WSDA’s focus on food security has intensified as we’ve worked to prevent hunger for millions of Washingtonians. Our state’s food and farm businesses have had to overcome enormous challenges during this time, and WSDA is committed to supporting the economic viability of producers of all sizes and scales as a key strategy to keep Washington food secure,” he said. “Following the legislature’s appropriation of historic levels of funding for our Food Assistance Programs and Farm to School grants, we recognized how important it was to foster connections between public purchasers and farm and food businesses and are pleased to support the expansion of the Eat Local First Collaborative’s Washington Food & Farm Finder to grow wholesale markets.”
You can email [email protected] for questions about the Eat Local First Washington Food & Farm Finder.