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Seattle Fund Doles Out New Grants to Several Local Food and Agriculture Nonprofits

The latest Environmental Justice Fund’s round of grants total more than $500,000

A small urban garden shows several green shoots emerging from dirt patches
The Black Farmers Collective is among several returning Environmental Justice Fund grantees.
Black Farmers Collective [Official Photo]

There’s some major cash going to organizations in Seattle addressing food insecurity and accessibility. On Monday, February 1, the Office of Sustainability and Environment, in partnership with Seattle’s Environmental Justice Committee, announced more than $515,000 in new grants to 10 local nonprofits through the city’s Environmental Justice Fund. Among the recipients were several food-focused orgs: the Black Farmers Collective, Villa Comunitaria, FEEST, and the East African Senior Meal Program.

This is the third year of the fund’s existence, although the total grant money this year is the largest awarded so far, and the max grants are $20,000 more than they were previously. Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, voices from the community played a large role in the grant approval process. According to the Office of Sustainability and Environment’s climate justice director Lylianna Allala, local BIPOC leaders gave feedback to the committee on the grants, and there was a series of virtual presentations. More than 40 organizations made their case overall, with an emphasis on the impact COVID-19 has had on access to healthy food in underrepresented communities.

For instance, $60,000 will go to help support Villa Comunitaria’s Salsa de la Vida project, a group of women living and working together to create a co-op business at the Marra Farm in South Park. The grant is earmarked to build new raised beds, improve irrigation, and expand production in anticipation of offering 20 community supported agriculture (CSA) boxes in summer 2021. Production and distribution of herbs will also increase to meet the needs of the neighborhood’s Latinx community.

The Black Farmers Collective will use this year’s funds to help provide watering infrastructure at Yes Farm in the Central District: a community garden, co-op, and community gathering space. Meanwhile, FEEST — an organization of young BIPOC leaders trying to expand food accessibility in lower-income areas of the city — will use the grant to help develop its digital organizing strategy. “FEEST has done amazing job playing a role in mutual aid,” says Allala of the organization, one of this year’s returning grantees, along with the Black Farmers Collective and Villa Comunitaria.

The East African Senior Meal Program is a first-time grantee, providing seniors with healthy community meals, among other services. Its program at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands has been on hold due to COVID, but plans to resume soon and expand, thanks to the grant money.