Food processing interest among farmers
In 2017 the WSU Thurston and Lewis County Extension programs completed a farmer needs assessment. Among other needs, farmers commented on food system infrastructure gaps in the south Sound region, suggesting a need for dry, refrigerated and frozen storage, food processing facilities, grain mill capacity, and a warehouse for aggregation, distribution and collective marketing. Among other problems, lack of farm infrastructure in the region is dampening market opportunities, and likely contributing to long-term loss of farmland. The 2012 Censuses of Agriculture reported 76,000 and 132,839 acres of farmland in Thurston and Lewis Counties respectively. Yet the 1950 county agriculture census reported 170,640 acres and 304,253 respectively for these counties.
This project is exploring the potential of a vegetable processing facility to expand market access for crop producers in the south Puget Sound.
A regional research effort is underway to conduct a market and processing line analysis for a frozen food processing facility. Work in 2018 will evaluate buyers at farmers markets, hospital and school cafeterias, customers of box subscription programs, and others. For more information on this work, please contact Stephen Bramwell at WSU Thurston County Extension: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read on here for an informal thought piece on the potential of a food processing facility: Could food system infrastructure like a food processing facility help reverse farmland loss? Thurston farmland & vegetable processing