The Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust is soliciting votes to win up to $10,000 for the construction of a cold storage and washing facility for produce at Matsuda Farm.
The contest is part of Cultivating Change, a grant program started by a national network of produce distributors, which awards funds to local farms for facility upgrades. At Matsuda Farm, the Land Trust is hoping to transform the existing garages on the property into a walk-in cooler, an addition that is critical to fulfilling the goal of supplying produce to the Vashon Island School District year-round.
“When we purchased the farm in 2015 there was really just a hayfield with no infrastructure,” said Development Director Erika Carleton, adding that operations at Matsuda Farm have today grown to include irrigated fields, greenhouses and a pump house.
Last spring, the Land Trust began growing produce slated for the school district, food bank and Vashon Fresh. But the lack of adequate storage for produce is inhibiting further expansion.
“We don’t have anything for washing and storing produce. There’s no facility for us to do that, and you have to do that.”
Carleton said that for last year’s harvest of crops at the farm, the Land Trust was able to use space for storing produce in the Vashon Fresh mobile cooler. But she said as both programs grow, sharing space is not a viable long-term solution. Without funding, Carleton said the Land Trust will likely scrounge and purchase used refrigerators for storing its produce on-site, but noted that it would likely not be energy efficient, and only buys time.
“It’s just a question of how we’re going to do it and the sustainability of what we’re doing. At some point, we really need to step up our capacity to move produce,” she said.
For more information and to vote online for the walk-in cooler at Matsuda Farm, visit https://cultivatingchange.org/vote-2019/ and search “Vashon.”