Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cascade Harvest Coalition in Crisis

Dear friends,

The meltdown in financial markets and the increasingly weak economy have hit us hard here at Cascade Harvest Coalition. As of today, we will lose 75% of our operating budget (approximately $230,000) for 2009. This is largely local government grants that won’t be funded because of operating shortfalls.

We need your help!

For ten years, Cascade Harvest Coalition has been fiercely dedicated to building a sustainable food system in our region. Each year, we have reached millions of consumers with messages on the critical importance of local farms and food to our economy, our communities and our environment. We have given them the tools they need to directly connect with local farmers – through the Puget Sound Fresh Farm Guide, CSA directory, searchable database, and by directly supporting Farmers Markets and restaurants, local retail grocers and others who source locally.

We have made it our mission to more directly connect farmers with local food buyers, helping support sustainable farming operations and increasing their bottom line.

We have provided thousands of hours of one-on-one assistance to current and beginning farmers as they try to access land, start new farm businesses, and develop new markets. We have helped maintain over 500 acres in active agricultural production and provided many hundreds of farmers with the resources, tools and information they need to be successful.

And our efforts to support new processing infrastructure in the Puget Sound region are starting to bear fruit. Working with our collaborative partners, we’ve identified existing processing capacity and are helping farmers get new products to market as well as examining the potential for other processing facilities. We are adding considerably to the fundamental base of information about production, processing and infrastructure in our region that will serve us for years to come.

Importantly, we have also provided significant financial support to other organizations promoting sustainable food and farming systems by helping fund workshops, conferences and other community events as well as acting as fiscal sponsor for organizations just starting to build capacity.

And, we provide a crucial conduit for information – through this and our other email lists – to make sure that those interested in issues affecting local food and farms are informed. This list – started nearly 10 years ago – has grown from reaching a handful of individuals and organizations – to reaching an estimated 2,000 directly and through information sharing. Almost daily – organizations ask to post information to this list because they know you care about the issues. And yet, the majority of people on this list are not members of Cascade Harvest Coalition.

We urge you to become a member or make a contribution, individually and through your business or organization to support our efforts at this critical time. Your support is crucial in helping us maintain the momentum we’ve built and the successes we’ve achieved.

Thank you for your support!

Mary Embleton, Director

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