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Environmental Justice In Action: Rainier Beach Community Farm Stand

This article is part of the series: “Seattle Environmental Justice in Action” — highlighting projects and organizations that are advancing environmental justice in our city. In 2017, the City of Seattle and the King Conservation District (KCD) to support projects that advance environmental justice along with improving natural resources in Seattle. Project proposals were required to address the goals of the Seattle Equity & Environment Agenda as well as natural resource priorities.

The Rainier Beach Community Farm Stand is a weekly event for the Ethiopian Community in Seattle (ECS). Every Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm, Liya Rubio, Rainier Beach Action Coalition (RBAC) Farm Stand Manager, and her team of staff and volunteers from RBAC and Roots of All Roads, set up a farm stand in the parking lot of ECS. The stand brings in locally sourced fresh produce from people of color (POC)-owned and operated farms to the Rainier Beach community. This is environmental justice in action.

The Farm Stand provides employment opportunities for five young adult fellows who attend weekly staff meetings and are provided with other leadership and learning activities such as field trips to meet the farmers, researching best practices at other farmers markets, and designing the Farm Stand’s logo and slogan – “Start Fresh.”

Michael, one of the Farm Stand Fellows, said he enjoyed working with the Farm Stand, especially learning how to handle cash, running a small business, and having the opportunity to go on field trips to explore other Seattle markets. Fellows are accompanied by three seniors recruited from ECS’ Senior Meal Program. The program is multi-generational, collaborative, and opens communication channels.

The goal of the Farm Stand is to help local POC community members make healthier choices about their diet, especially those with lower incomes on EBT and SNAP. Liya and her team create this safe space at ECS each week so that community members can ask questions about healthy food and how to cook the fruits and vegetables found at the stand.

As the weather starts to change in the next few months, the Farm Stand will transition into the ECS indoor space. The project is funded until February and will continue to bring healthy food and education to the Rainier Beach community through seed exchanges, cooking classes, and recipe sharing.