Whatcom County is home to a robust agricultural production industry, marine harvest industry, and an associated local consumption industry. To maintain and advance the economic, social, and environmental health of our food system consideration must be given to its interconnected sectors; including land, water, fishing, farming, labor, processing, transportation, consumption, aquaculture and waste. Currently, food plans are being created for cities and counties all over the state.

This, along with the new food system section added to the Economics Chapter of the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan, makes it the perfect time for Whatcom to develop its own food system plan in order to support and foster a vibrant local food system locally.

What would a food system plan accomplish?

Currently:

  • An estimated 30,000 individuals in Whatcom County experience food insecurity
  • Market pressures make it increasingly difficult for farmers and food system workers to earn a living wage
  • 61% of Washington adults are either obese or overweight due in part to the type of food consumed
  • Farmland has decreased by roughly 1.02 million acres in WA since 1950

A robust Whatcom food system plan would be instrumental in addressing the root causes of these challenges and others, as well as:

  • Identifying and ensuring stewardship of a long term food system vision for Whatcom County
  • Serving as a key resource with action items for food system issues
  • Facilitating effective collaboration, problem solving, and shared learning across all food system and community stakeholders

What would a food system plan look like?

We are currently conducting outreach and stakeholder engagement to pull together a team of people interested in exploring this question and many more. There are a multitude of examples from other counties and we seek to incorporate best practices from those whose food system plans are succeeding, while also learning from the challenges faced where plans did not provide a benefit to their communities. We aim to steward a plan that includes a variety of perspectives and addresses the unique opportunities and needs here in Whatcom County.