Agriculture in Thurston County

South Puget Sound Agricultural Producer Needs Assessment report available

May 2017. The Thurston County Ag Producer Needs Assessment is available. Results will be presented to the Port of Olympia commissioners on Thursday May 25th from 2:30 to 3:30 pm. Please be in touch with any comments or questions. Results of this work are available to the community with the intention that coalitions and individuals work together to address farmer needs.

 

 

Agriculture in Thurston County

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WSU Extension Thurston County provides research-based information and educational programs to farmers, consumers, decision-makers, and others involved in the South Sound food system. Currently, there is no Agriculture Extension Faculty assigned for Thurston County exclusively. Our county is also served by Gary Fredricks, Small Farms, Livestock and Dairy Area Agent.

Background:

Thurston County’s farmland is rapidly disappearing.  Between 2002 and 2007, the acreage of actively farmed land has dropped nearly in half – from 74,420 acres to 38,718 acres.  Since the mid 1950s, when Thurston County was primarily farmland, the County has lost over 75 percent of its working agricultural lands.Though the land area dedicated to agricultural activities has been steadily eroding, agricultural production it is still of significant importance to the County’s economy.  The total market value of agricultural production in Thurston County is about $118 million from 1,288 farms, with crops accounting for approximately 42% of the total and livestock and poultry the remaining 58% (U.S. Census of Agriculture).  These figures are greater than that of all adjacent counties.

Farming activity is varied, ranging from berry farming, egg farms, organic produce, and tree farming.  Much of the economic viability of farming is tied to access to local markets, including the six farmers markets operating in the County: Olympia Farmers Market, West Olympia Farmers MarketTumwater Farmers MarketLacey Community Market, Tenino Farmers Market, and Yelm Farmers Market. Direct-to-institution relationships are also increasing in importance, including sales to schools and hospitals. The County is centrally-situated between the Seattle-Tacoma and Portland metropolitan areas, two large markets experiencing a resurgence of interest in local foods. The South of the Sound Community Land Trust maintains a South Sound Direct Sales Farm Map which lists many local farms engaging in direct-market sales. Additionally, the Thurston Food System Council was recently formed as a grassroots citizens organization composed of a diverse group of community stakeholders empowered by the community and recognized by local government to foster collaboration and active engagement in the local food system.

Agriculture Statistics:

Food and Farming Reports:

Extension programs and employment are available to all without discrimination. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office.