Approximately 200 farmers, wholesalers, institutional buyers, and technical experts gathered in Puyallup on Friday for the second annual Pierce County Farm Forum, which offered an opportunity to share strategies and experiences for boosting markets for the local agricultural industry, learn more about agritourism and direct market sales, and network with potential business partners.
“We have a rich agricultural heritage in this region, and the growing popularity of our Farm Forum shows there’s great interest in supporting it,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “We brought farmers and buyers together to assist them in making business connections and discovering new opportunities in various market settings, such as retail, restaurants, hospitals, schools and farmers markets.”
The all-day event was co-hosted by Cascade Harvest Coalition and featured presentations by representatives from the Northwest Agriculture Business Center, Blue Willow Lavender Farm, Wilcox Farms, and the Olympia Lacey Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau. Participants learned more about the Pierce County Agriculture Program, which offers assistance with permitting, partnerships, promotion, and land preservation.
One highlight of the county program is the management of a mobile app for Puget Sound Fresh, Cascade Harvest Coalition’s statewide directory of farms, farmers markets, products, and activities.
Another session focused on opportunities and barriers that local food purchasers have experienced in buying food direct from farmers. Those speakers represented Harborview Medical Center, Whole Food Market, Sumner School District, Charlie’s Produce, and Primo Grill.
The afternoon session featured a “speed-dating” format that gave local farmers the opportunity to meet with buyers from such entities as Joint Base Lewis McChord, farmers markets, Tacoma Boys, Marlene’s Natural Foods Market & Deli, Harbor Greens Market, St. Martin’s University, Pacific Lutheran University, Hotel Murano’s Bite Restaurant, and more. Technical experts were available throughout the day to discuss financing, permits, conservation, health regulations, and more.
The forum also included the release of a new Pierce County TV video about agritourism, which is available online here.
The Pierce County Farm Forum also received support from the Pierce Conservation District, The Russell Family Foundation, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, and the WSU Extension.
More information is available online at piercecountywa.org/farming.