YORK COMMUNITY FARM
We provide living-wage, resume-building, meaningful jobs for underserved members of our community through sustainable urban agriculture.
Located in Bellingham, Washington, YCF was launched in 2013 by a group of neighbors who wanted to address the issues of HUNGER and POVERTY in our community. We negotiated with our State Department of Transportation and located on ¾ of an acre of disused DOT land along the I-5 sound wall in the York District- a residential urban neighborhood.
Over the past five growing seasons, we have installed an orchard and placed 4,000 square feet under ag production. We have built composting, rainwater harvesting, and solar-powered drip irrigation systems. And, we have grown, and distributed, hundreds of pounds of winter storage crops (dry beans, potatoes, and winter squash) to our community.
And, we have turned a COMMUNITY EYE SORE – a derelict, weed-infested, litter-strewn lot- into a COMMUNITY ASSET.
Where once neighbors avoided the area, they now frequently wander the farm, attend our festivals, volunteer at our work parties, and participate in our workshops.
The CENTERPIECE of YCF is our FARM INTERNSHIP. For the past five years, we have provided living-wage, resume-building, meaningful work experience for underserved members of our community- our recently-incarcerated, homeless, and veteran folk.
Our interns, due to mental health issues, criminal records, and/or lack of work experience, are marginally employable in traditional settings.
On the farm, outside, under minimal pressure, and moving every day, our interns have thrived. The work provides a sense of SUCCESS to people for whom success has been a rare commodity- because on a farm, everyday, you accomplish a great deal. And this success builds HOPE and PRIDE and a SENSE OF PLACE in the community.
Our jobs have helped interns out of homelessness, into traditional jobs, and soon, for one intern, into Bellingham Technical College's Fisheries & Aquaculture Sciences Program.
We have awarded 27 internships to members of Bellingham’s homeless, veteran, and recently-incarcerated populations valued at $40,500. We have provided resume-building work experience, as well as a sense of community and value, to some of our most marginalized citizens.
"I feel a deep appreciation for all you have invested in me."
"I've gained confidence and had fun!"
"The farm puts new hope where hope is waiting desperately to be recognized and nurtured."
"The farm's vision of local food production and workforce development are becoming a reality."
"If not for getting to work with you, I don't feel I would have grown so much".
"The farm has helped ease financial and other kinds of stress".
"YCF provides both concrete skills and personal empowerment in a safe environment".
"Thank you for your support".
MOVING FORWARD... As we move into our sixth growing season in 2018, we are expanding our operation in several significant ways:
First: The Greenhouse
We have started a campaign to raise $8,000 for a greenhouse.
Purchasing a greenhouse (20' x 36') will allow us to accomplish a number of objectives:
- expand our growing season to year round;
- expand our employment opportunities to year round; and,
- initiate a seedling nursery.
Second: The Aquaponics Project!
The greenhouse will also house our Aquaponics Project.
We have partnered with Engineers Without Borders, an international organization, and Western Washington University's Engineering Department to develop an off-the-grid, sustainable aquaponics pilot project preparatory to the farm’s expansion into this area. Aquaponics involves growing fish in tanks, pumping the nutrient-rich "fishy" water to plants growing above the tanks, and returning clean water to the fish. It is sustainable, adaptable, organic, has much greater per acre yields, and uses 90% less water, than traditional land-based farming. And, aquaponic systems can be established anywhere: in buildings; on rooftops; on derelict land.
By 2050, our planet's human population will swell to 9 billion, placing ever greater stress on already strained eco-systems including fisheries and open space. Aquaponics offers a proven alternative to our both traditional agriculture and fishing industries and an answer to our increasing demand for fish. It is an industry that has grown at nine percent per year since 1950.
In our temperate maritime climate, an aquaponics industry can be an ideal way to generate new entry-level to professional employment opportunities, strengthen our local food security, and relieve stress on our natural systems. YCF envisions being a catalyst for development of a social benefit aquaponics industry where the bottom line is not generating revenue for stockholders but, generating living-wage jobs for struggling communities in our region and beyond.
Please help us with the next step in realizing our vision:
Purchasing a GREENHOUSE!!!
Our kickstarter campaign runs from April 13 to May 13 ONLY! If we do not make our goal of $8,000, we don't get anything. So, please get your pledges in before May 13th! Thanks!
We are a Washington State recognized non-profit and our Fiscal Sponsor is Northwest Agriculture Business Center, a federally recognized 501 (c) (3).
IN THE NEWS
York Community Farm
How one neighborhood turned a freeway eyesore into a green asset
Welcome To An Urban Oasis P. 16
Mary Loquvam and the York Farm
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is YORK COMMUNITY FARM A NON-PROFIT?
We are a Washington State recognized non-profit and our Fiscal Sponsor is Northwest Agriculture Business Center, a federally recognized 501 (c) (3). All your donations are TAX DEDUCTIBLE!
2. What do we pay our interns?
We pay our interns $15 per hour.
3. Where do our interns come from?
We work with a number of partners who provide social services (housing, emergency housing, food, job training, medical and psychiatric services, etc.) for the underserved in our county. These agencies and organizations help us identify clients who could benefit from a farm internship and job training.
OUR MAGNIFICENT PARTNERS
Northwest Agriculture Business Center; Engineers Without Borders; City Gate Re-Entry Program; Garden Street United Methodist Church; Indian Street pottery Studio; Washington State University Cooperative Extension; Transition Whatcom; Sustainable Bellingham; Washington State Department of Transportation; Jerry F. Walton Foundation; Center for Sustainability and Innovation; Growing Veterans; Opportunity Council; City of Bellingham; Ben Rawlins Tree Service; Summit Tree Service; Bellingham Food Co-op; Whatcom Education Credit Union; Western Washington University Student Transition Organization; Western Washington University Service Learning Center; Whatcom Community Foundation; Kulshan Brewery; Boundary Bay Brewery; Grocery Outlet
Risks and challenges
One challenge we have encountered is demonstrating to large funders (e.g., corporations, foundations) that we have made an impact in our community. With just 27 interns passing through our internship in the past five years, many funders feel we haven't made a significant impact and don't qualify for funding. We know have made a significant impact in the individual lives of the interns who have gone through our program. With the purchase of a greenhouse and year-round growing and employment capability, we will be able to demonstrate even greater impact and garner greater support for our work.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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