Conservation district growing urban ag network

Pat Munts, small farm and acreage coordinator for Washington State University Extension in Spokane County, is coordinating the Spokane Conservation District's efforts to build an urban agriculture network.

The Spokane Conservation District is developing an urban agriculture network as a way to connect farmers within the city.

Pat Munts, small farm and acreage coordinator for Washington State University Extension in Spokane County, is directing the effort.

“It would pull together all the groups and people who have been working for years on little, individual projects scattered all over the place, so we can communicate about who has what resources, who needs what resources,” Munts said.

The group will advocate for urban agriculture and related issues the public needs to think about, Munts said.

The Spokane City Council and Mayor David Condon are already showing support for the project.

Munts considers urban agriculture in several levels: backyard gardeners growing vegetables for personal use, those raising small livestock such as chickens, goats, pigs and sheep; and those raising vegetables on a city lot to sell at a farmers’ market.

The last category is probably the least developed idea so far, she said.

“That part is going to take a lot more development at this point,” she said. “We have a few, but there’s a lot of things we have to work out with the city about what lots would be available, how would we get water to them, is the soil quality up to what it needs to be?”

Urban farmers need the skills to operate in an urban area, including dealing with different “critters” running around — “four-footed and two-footed,” Munts said — and city land use ordinances about management.

So far, roughly 25 people are attending meetings.

The district received a $47,000 grant from the National Association of Conservation Districts last year to encourage urban ag conservation improvements, such as water and soil management.

Contact Munts at pmunts@spokanecounty.org or 509-477-2173.

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