Harvest Pierce County

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Feb 26

Building a sustainable food system at the Veggie Co-op

Posted on February 26, 2016 at 8:28 AM by Allan Warren

Veggie Coop (3)At the corner of East 96th and Waller Road in Tacoma there is a place where people of all ages are coming together to help build a more sustainable food system. This place is called Veggie Co-op.

The Veggie Co-op is a volunteer-run program managed by the Pierce Conservation District through its program Harvest Pierce County that coordinates individuals to come together as a community to grow food on a farm scale on land provided by the Franklin Pierce School District in Tacoma, WA. Volunteers attend weekly work parties where they work, grow, and learn as a group, instead of stewarding rows individually as typical in most community gardens. While learning sustainable agriculture techniques, volunteers grow food for local food banks, school district cafeterias, and their families.

"Veggie Co-op has changed the way I interact with my food," said Hannah Miner, Veggie Co-op volunteer. "I've loved learning everything from seed to harvest-- including discovering my favorite task: broad-forking! I learn something new every week from HPC staff and other Veggie Co-op members, and I take what I learn back to my community garden plot/community."

Volunteers commit to an entire growing season (April-October) attending one 3 hour work party a week, with summer being the busiest time of year. In return for their dedication and commitment, participants can take home a weekly share of fresh produce throughout the harvest season. Work parties often begin with a short lecture on a gardening or farming topic, creating an opportunity for everyone to actively learn as they work on the farm.

"The reason I support and participate in the Veggie Co-op is due to the fact that very few people today have access to locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables," Amber Ackerson, Veggie Co-op volunteer. "Our society as a whole has lost it connection with the land, and their personal ability to grow a large portion of the food they eat.  So participating this this Co-op allows me to connect with the land myself, learn skills that my generation were never taught, and to help provide organic food to the local food banks.”

Now entering its fourth season, the Veggie Co-op continues to grow and evolve with many new volunteer opportunities taking shape. 2016 promises to be an exciting year for the project!