Orcas community-grown food network is expanding

by Matthew Gilbert

Orcas Community Participatory Agriculture

Since 2014, Orcas Community Participatory Agriculture (OCPA) has empowered islanders to be the creators of the food that nourishes them. The OCPA team has been working to deepen community connections, grow nutrient-dense produce, and contribute to island resiliency through shared knowledge and shared work. OCPA offers a means to organize our community for farm work and adapt the ancient tradition of growing food to fit the needs of a changing world – starting right here on Orcas Island.

In 2022, we decided to grow our pilot project into an island-wide network: Five Land Hosts are now sharing their farms as learning venues for 40 island families with support from two Anchor Farmers and six Site Managers. Islanders of all stripes will be participating this year, including a focus on low-income, ECAP-eligible (Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program), and bilingual families in a partnership with SJC SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education).

While the main growing season runs from March through November, we are also developing a winter program as we work toward our goal of year-round, community-grown, local food. And we are always looking for new participants. (Contact us at: https://www.orcascommunityag.org/contact)

To help this program continue to succeed and grow, OCPA has set a goal to raise $18,000 for operating expenses and to begin compensating Anchor Farmers and Site Managers with a living wage. This year we are honored, along with many other incredible grantees, to be part of the GiveOrcas Campaign: https://www.orcascommunityag.org/giveorcas

The donation window is May 2 – 16. May 10 is Unique Donor Day: The grantee with the most unique online donors on Tuesday, May 10, (from 12:01 a.m. until 11:59 p.m.) will receive a bonus of $1,000 from OICF. The second-place winner receives $500 and third place receives $250. Share out our website with your networks: https://www.orcascommunityag.org/. Like and share our Instagram posts and invite your friends to do the same: https://www.instagram.com/orcas_community_ag/

Please consider supporting other programs in this year’s GiveOrcas catalog, including these three organizations that are hard at work building the local food system:

Helping Hands Noramise / FEAST: Engaging Orcas teens in food, farm, and community experiences. https://oicf.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create?grant_id=21285

Orcas Island Food Bank: Help increase the Food Bank’s supply of fresh farm foods. https://oicf.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create?grant_id=21296

Orcas Community Resource Center: Fresh Bucks helps make fruits and veggies accessible to all. https://oicf.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create?grant_id=21304

Thank you!! Your donation will have a real and sustainable impact on our island community!