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City, County Celebrate Collaborative Food Systems Work

In honor of Food Day – Oct. 24 – Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine issued a joint proclamation recognizing the role that a healthy, sustainable food system plays in supporting the health of our residents, fostering our local economy, and protecting and enhancing our natural resources.

heart-made-of-healthy-food_23-2147509971“We are very fortunate in Seattle to have a robust local food economy,” said Mayor Murray. “As our farmers markets and local food businesses continue to grow, we remain committed to supporting local farmers because healthy, local food is the cornerstone of our thriving food system.”

“One of the many ways we’re strengthening our region’s food economy is by steering development away from farms and into our vibrant cities,” said Executive Constantine. “We’re also better connecting urban areas with local farmers and grocers so that more people in King County can enjoy fresh, locally grown meals on Food Day, and every day.”
Food Day is an opportunity for communities to celebrate wholesome, nutritious, and healthy food and to support policies and actions grow the farm to plate pipeline.

Once such policy is the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) partnership between King County and the City of Seattle. The agreement has preserved over 1,100 acres of farmland since first implemented in 2013. The voluntary, incentive-based program creates an opportunity for rural landowners and farmers to receive financial compensation without having to sell or develop their land.

The agreement, which allows downtown Seattle developers to purchase farmland development rights in order to build additional office or residential space, was awarded the “Lifetime Growth Management Act Achievement Award” by the state Department of Commerce last year.

In exchange for developers in South Lake Union and downtown purchasing development rights from rural farms, King County agreed to share a portion of new property tax revenue with the City to help fund important infrastructure projects in South Lake Union and downtown neighborhoods.

Much of the farmland preserved through the TDR program produces food that is sold at Seattle farmers markets, to local restaurants, and to hospitals and preschools. Some of it makes it onto the dinner tables of residents with low incomes via Fresh Bucks—which doubles the purchasing power of SNAP (food stamp) benefits at farmers markets in Seattle and King County – and into Seattle’s childcare and preschool programs through the Farm to Table partnership.

The Food Day proclamation points out that Government, individuals, businesses, and organizations all have a role in creating a healthy, vibrant food system that supports farmers, consumers, and workers, while protecting land and natural resources.

King County and the City of Seattle will continue to explore innovative and collaborative policy solutions. Businesses and residents can support our local food system by shopping at and supporting local farms through farmers markets, community supported agriculture programs, and by seeking out locally-grown products at grocery stores

Learn more about the City’s Food Action Plan here.

Learn more about the County’s Local Food Initiative here.