Clark Conservation District, Washington

CFFN banner display at the Clark County Fair

The Clark CD’s Clark Food and Farm Network (CFFN) project provides technical assistance and support for urban agriculture and community engagement with farmers, organizations and citizens interested in conservation, agriculture and access to local food. This is accomplished through networking and media to connect interests and provide technical expertise. CFFN creates multiple avenues for citizens to access and acquire information, network and make connections.

Clark Food and Farm Network (CFFN) has additional benefits to the natural resources through technical assistance for agroecological issues like soil and water conservation practices, biodiversity, crop health, etc. Most urban agriculturalists with small acreage farms, community garden plots or backyard gardens focus solely on their vegetables and don’t consider things like cover crops or rotation. Urban agriculture can have significant cumulative natural resource impacts.

CFFN also provides improved access to food to the underserved through information and assistance as well as the knowledge and community contacts to successfully grow their own. It has the additional benefit of increasing awareness of the connection of urban agriculture and a healthy environment.

This project included input from multiple agricultural and food industry representatives, natural resource and community partners, farmers and other individuals to gather their needs and ideas, and for information-sharing across organizations. Open houses and community meetings were held to invite the public and encourage involvement. Outreach was done with electronic and printed flyers sent to partners’ mail lists and handed out at many community events. Outreach also included unique stand-up displays and table-top displays at partner offices, community events and meetings.

CFFN is a website (www.clarkfoodandfarm.org) full of agricultural-related information, forums and assistance. Citizens can easily navigate interactive maps, discussion forums, event calendars, contacts, community stories and more through the website and interactive social media (Facebook group). Citizens can also use the contacts to request more site-specific technical assistance and guidance or pick up a postage-paid postcard to send their request by mail.

The district is still working on developing a phone line with a 1-800 number for requests and questions for those who do not have internet access. The voicemail associated with the phone line will give the caller the option of using other languages (Spanish and Russian) to provide improved access to information.

CFFN tri-fold display at a Clark County Food Systems Council meeting

Sustainability

The district is committed to continuing this project and furthering efforts in farmland conservation and local food production. The long-range plan includes protecting and providing assistance to farm landowners as a priority for district work, including working with partners to gather data and identify possible opportunities or actions for farmland preservation that meets the needs of local land owners and partners; developing outreach materials and educational tools and participating in community events; and researching funding sources and program options.

The community and partners are also committed. They have shown a need for this assistance and are committed to keeping Clark Food and Farm Network a place and forum that is up-to-date and useful. Partners have had numerous discussions about local food systems and farming in Clark County. They are planning for more possibilities in the future, including a food hub, an online food ordering system that draws from local farms, a volunteer delivery service, and a mobile food service truck program (like an ice cream truck, but with local fruit and veggies) to increase access to food. CFFN is just the first step to an urban farming and food system in Clark County.

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