It’s hard to imagine that just four months ago, what is now flourishing was just a dirt field. We are thrilled to be contributing to the increase of locally-grown-and-consumed food in South Whidbey and are truly indebted to all our supporters, volunteers, and advocates who have filled an empty ball field with abundance and fresh food.
Local and greater community support has been vital to The Big ACRE’s rapid start-up following project approval in late December 2015. Among the in-kind donations we have received this year, we are beyond lucky to count everything from pots, seeds, and propagation equipment to a rolling pull-cart (donated by John, Molly, and Anna Petersons), a tool shed (donated by South Whidbey School District [SWSD]), a 20′ x 48′ hoop house (donated by Dave Schmidt), irrigation mainline (donated by Island Recycling) and a two-wheeled tractor (donated by The Organic Farm School).
Monetary donations from individuals and grants from Whidbey Island Garden Tour, Goosefoot Community Fund, Langley Community Club, Lucky Seven Foundation, Tulalip Cares Charitable Contributions, Catholic Relief Services/Archdiocese of Seattle, Cedar Grove, and Johnny’s Selected Seeds have provided for many of the infrastructural needs associated with starting a farm, such as irrigation equipment, fencing materials, harvest tools, soil amendments, compost, seeds, and fruit trees. And volunteers have played a crucial role in The Big ACRE, clearing rocks, planting fruit trees, moving and spreading compost, and building the fence. Our community of farmer friends has lent countless advice, opinions, and emotional support in starting the new farm, from helping to design and lay the irrigation system, to spontaneous seed donations, seed variety lessons, and impromptu soil workshops.
In the 12 weeks since The Big ACRE’s first harvest (June 1), the new farm has provided over 2,200 pounds of lettuce, kale, bok choy, mustard greens, spinach, green onions, leeks, herbs, tomatoes, carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, potatoes, and onions to the community, through Good Cheer Food Bank, Whidbey Island Nourishes (WIN), and SWSD.
This season also marks the first time we’ve been able to provide Good Cheer-grown staples, like potatoes and onions, to Food Bank clients. And with school starting just around the corner, we will be ramping up our harvests for SWSD cafeterias so that more students can enjoy fresh vegetables during school hours. In subsequent years, we will be adding more apples, pears, and plums to our local food system.
We are so excited and hope you are too! A huge, HUGE thank you to everyone who has given time, money, and/or materials to support Abundant Community Resources for Everyone.