By STEVE BROWN
WOODINVILLE, Wash. -- The Veterans Agricultural Cooperative has set up camp in the big backyard of the 21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living, in rural King County.
21 Acres, a nonprofit outgrowth of the Woodinville Farmers' Market,
bought the land for $350,000 from King County as part of a preservation
program to create an “agriculture production district.” Farm manager
Rosy Smit said 21 Acres staff manages three acres of intensive
production, 15 acres is fallow land or native trees to
enhance wildlife habitat and 2 1/2 acres is leased to community groups.
"Since we are undergoing organic certification, sustainable practices are part of their contract with us," she said.
Smit, a full-time employee of 21 Acres, said she has always worked in agriculture. She grew up in Canada and studied soil science at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Her duties include co-op development and marketing.
The 18 acres in back include wildlife corridors and public trails through working farms, which will include chickens, bees, four-season market gardens, orchards and vineyards.
21 Acres is intended to enhance the agricultural market and economic base by supporting new and existing farmers and farmers' markets.
The front 3 acres of the property encompass a major construction project, due to be completed in August. The 17,000-square-foot building will include year-round indoor-outdoor stalls for local vendors to sell directly to the public. A commercial kitchen will allow growers to process value-added products such as pickles, jams and sauces. State-of-the-art storage units will keep produce fresh. Classrooms will house workshops for farmers, chefs, nutritionists and families.
The building is designed to exceed Platinum LEED requirements (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), one of only four such structures in Washington and 82 in the U.S.