Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Dear friends – we did it!! We raised $10,000. I want to express our gratitude to all of you who joined Cascade Harvest Coalition and/or made a contribution toward this challenge. It truly is a community effort.

2009 is going to be a challenging year, but I truly feel that it presents us with great opportunities to re-envision what this local food economy can be – and how we can strengthen our network and continue to build on the great and meaningful work that is being done.

Please accept our warmest wishes, as you come together with family and friends, for a happy Thanksgiving.



By W. S. Merwin

I have to trust what was given to me
if I am to trust anything
it led the stars over the shadowless mountain
what does it not remember in its night and silence
what does it not hope knowing itself no child of time

what did it not begin what will it not end
I have to hold it up in my hands as my ribs hold up my heart
I have to let it open its wings and fly among the gifts of the unknown

again in the mountain I have to turn
to the morning

I must be led by what was given to me
as streams are led by it
and braiding flights of birds
the gropings of veins the learning of plants
the thankful days
breath by breath

I call to it Nameless One O Invisible
O Untouchable O Free
I am nameless I am divided
I am invisible and untouchable
and empty
nomad live with me
be my eyes
my tongue and my hands
my sleep and my rising
out of chaos
come and be given

Something to chew on the day before Thanksgiving...

This is a piece that was published on our Eat Local for Thanksgiving blog, but it's something to think about all year long.

Did you listen to Janet McDevitt on KUOW's Sound Focus last Wendesday? She talked all about Eating Local for Thanksgiving: what to cook, where to buy, etc. One issue, though, both she and the host Megan Sukys mentioned that local food is more expensive. From the show description: "[Farmers Markets] also host large crowds, they don’t always have everything you need and there is a big cost difference from the grocery store."


Studies over the last few years show that when you buy local food in season, it is often LESS EXPENSIVE than at chain grocery stores. For the Eat Local for Thanksgiving campaign, we asked a UW student, Lydia Caudill, to conduct an informal price comparison between farmers markets and grocery stores

“The prices of produce in the farmers market not only were very comparable to conventional non-local produce, but they often were a better price.” She also made a case for the experience, poignantly adding, “The atmosphere of the farmers market was a mix of a festival and an exploration of the unknown as people asked questions about the vast array of unique produce sold, very often talking with the people who grew it themselves. If I ever doubted my reasons for buying local…this project took away my doubts. "

We found organic acorn and butternut squash to be more affordable by 79-cents a pound at the market than at the grocery store. And organic Gala apples bought directly from the farmer were more affordable by $1.29 a pound from their supermarket counterparts!

Another informal study conducted earlier in the year by the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance found these numbers:

10/14/08 Organic at Safeway on Rainier Ave 10/15/08 at Columbia City Farmers Market

Butternut squash $1.79/lb. Butternut squash $1.00/lb.

Acorn squash 1.79/lb Acorn squash $1.00/lb.

Chard(medium bunch) 2.99/lb. Chard (med. bunch)2.50

Gala apples 2.79/lb. Gala apples 1.99/lb.

Romaine lettuce (med.) 2.19/head Romaine lettuce (med.) 1.50/head

Green beans 2.79/lb. Green beans 3.00/lb

Golden apples 2.79/lb Golden apples 1.99/lb

Safeway (Rainier Ave.) Organic Prices (10/7/08) Columbia City Farm. Market (10/8/08)

Gala apples $2.79/lb. Gala apples $1.50/lb.

Golden Apples $2.59/lb. Golden apples $2.00/lb.

Medium Tomatoes $4.19/lb. Medium Tomatoes $3.50/lb.

Red leaf lettuce $2.19/head Red Leaf Lettuce $2.00/head

large onion $1.89/lb. large onion $1.50/lb.

1 medium green pepper $1.79 each 1 medium green pepper $1.30 each

Blueberries 1/2 pint $4.99 Blueberries 1/2 pint $4.00

So, folks, don't believe the hype! Buying directly from the farmers is often LESS EXPENSIVE than buying from a chain grocery store. Plus, the money that you spend locally gets spent locally, meaning that the dollar that you use to buy potatoes gets recirculated throughout the local community. Whereas, if you spent that dollar at a chain grocery store, more than 2/3 of that dollar would immediately leave the state to pay for large compa
ny overhead costs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We've almost reached our challenge grant goal!

Dear Friends,

Thanks to your generous support we’ve almost reached our challenge grant goal to $10,000 by Thanksgiving. As of this morning, and with just two days remaining, we’ve received $9,660 in memberships and contributions from great folks throughout our community.

Not only will this help ‘keep the lights on,’ but it will enable us to continue supporting farmers, providing critical information to consumers on the importance of farming in our region, and helping develop family farm friendly policies.

In this season of being thankful, we at Cascade Harvest Coalition are fortunate to be part of a strong, caring community that is committed to a vibrant, local food economy.

In community,


It's been a little while since I last posted here...

I've been blogging at our other, more seasonal, Eat Local for Thanksgiving blog....Over there, we're posting recipes from top-notch local chefs, photos from recent ELT events, and "talking turkey".check it out:


Monday, November 10, 2008

Final Public Hearing for 2009 KC Budget

Hi all,

Mary and I just returned from the final public hearing for the 2009 King County budget at the Metropolitan King County Council chambers. Mary spoke on behalf of the Puget Sound Fresh program, the County Ag. Program staff, and the future of farmers and farmland in King County. Since many programs are on the "chopping block" to be cut from the County budget, there was a huge turnout of people to speak their minds to the council members. At the bang of the opening gavel, 63 people had signed up to speak. By my count, tenof the speakers spoke about county ag. programs, which is a fantastic percentage. In the ten, there was wonderful representation from various sectors connected to local farms and the ag. programs:

1. Seth Caswell, chef and president of Seattle Chefs' Collaborative
2. Andrew Stout, farmer and owner of Full Circle Farm (and president of Sno-Valley Tilth)
3. Wade Bennet, farmer and owner of Rockridge Orchards
3. Chris Curtis, executive director of Neighborhood Farmers Market Association, which operates seven farmers markets in Seattle
4. Larry Pickering, King County Ag. Commissioner
5. Kathy Pryor, Washington Toxics Coalition
6. Brad Gaolach, Director of WSU - King County Extension
7. Nancy Hutto, Snoqualmie Valley Honey Farm andKing County Ag. Commissioner
8. Michele Blakely, Growing Things Farm and King County Ag. Commissioner
9. Dave Hedlin, Hedlin Farm

And, of course, 10. Mary Embleton, executive director of Cascade Harvest Coalition.

In addition to the ten speakers, there were many ag program supporters throughout the 150 people in the council chambers including:

Sarah Garitone from Pierce Conservation District, Debbie Arenth from Fall City Farms, Lori Taylor from Bellevue Farmers Market, and me.

The speakers hit on a number of quality points for continuing funding for ag programs and staff. Here are some of the best from my notes:

1. Agriculture is a long term investment. It takes time to build successful ag. operations. To reduce or eliminate County agricultural program funding would halt all momentum for current farmers and severly reduce the chances for success for future farmers.

2. King County has been a national leader for crafting public policy and programs that help agriculture and should continue to lead the way toward promoting and protecting local agriculture.

3. Public demand for local food is high and rapidly increasing. Existing markets are growing and new markets are trying to open. Farmers Markets and other market opportunties need support and assistance to best serve farmers, consumers and communities.

4. The County should treat farming as a valuable resource that needs preservation, conservation and help with development for future opportunities. For the future of agriculture, especially "fringe ag" near urban areas, it is important that the county continue to "go to bat" for farmers.

5. Importance of local agriculture in the health of the local economy.

6. Food and water will be the major crises of the 21st century...even more so than energy.

7. Farms have a hugely positive ecological impact on King County. Example: 16 certified Salmon Safe farms, with 5 more on the certification waiting list.

It was a good show of support for King County ag programs and staff. I hope the council members heard the words and acknowleged the people who turned out to voice their support for continued County participation in building a healthier and more sustainable food system.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Shout-outs and upcoming events

First, a HUGE thank you to Tim Crosby for blogging from the Slow Food conference in Italy. The CHC blog is now officially international! Beyond being a "blogger-from-afar", Tim is one of our biggest supporters and known throughout Washington as the local food policy wonk. Tim rox.

Get out your calendars and circle these dates!

Friday, November 7th
Eat Local for Thanksgiving Kick-off event at Pike Place Market
Come hang out with local farmers, local chefs and local elected officials as we celebrate the official kick-off of the Eat Local for Thanksgiving campaign...while you're thinking about it, go take the ELT pledge.

November 7th-9th
Tilth Producers Conference in Bellingham
Lots and LOTS of workshops, speakers, films, food, music and fun. Go.

Sunday, November 9th
ELT Cooking Demo at the Broadway Farmers Market
Check out a wonderful FM that stays open late into the Fall.

Monday, November 10th
King County Council Final Public Hearing on 2009 King County Budget at the County Council Chambers
The county is in a budget crisis, but we must preserve agricultural programs and staff. King County has been a national leader in their work with local farms and farmland and we must not lose our momentum. Come to the hearing and make your voice heard.

Saturday, November 15th
ELT Kick-off part 2 at the University District Farmers Market
Our second kick-off event, complete with more local farmers, more local chefs and yes, more elected officials! It should be a real wing-ding!

Sunday, November 16th
ELT Cooking Demo at Ballard Market
Enjoy a tasty lesson in culinary arts while browsing and buying at one of our year-round farmers markets.

Sunday, November 23rd
ELT Cooking Demo at Ballard Market
If you missed the first demo or are hungry for more, join us for a right-before-Thanksgiving event at the year-round Ballard Farmers Market.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

PCC Podcast: Evening with Michael Ableman

We sponsored an evening with Michael Ableman, titled

Feeding the Future: Stories, Images and Ideas from the Frontier of Food and Agriculture

Check out the podcast!