Woodinville, WA – February 24, 2021 – Today at Paradise Farm, Farmer Frog’s Emergency Food Distribution program, which has fed two million Washingtonians since March 2020 and which continues to serve hundreds of thousands of hungry Washingtonians during the ongoing Covid-19 emergency, is in jeopardy due to Snohomish County Department of Conservation and Natural Resource’s declaration that the Food Distribution program will not be allowed to continue at the designated Unified Command Center after this Friday, February 26, 2021.
Snohomish County Decision Puts Tribes and BIPOC Communities At Risk
Snohomish County’s demand to relocate Farmer Frog’s Emergency Food Distribution program from Paradise Farm would hurt hundreds of thousands of people in Washington currently relying on this food supply, the majority of whom are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
Snohomish County’s effort to relocate Farmer Frog’s Emergency Food Distribution program threatens a food security partnership with over 700 organizations, including their Sister nonprofit the National Tribal Emergency Management Council. The partnership has distributed over 37 million pounds of food since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Collectively, the team has served three million food recipients across a 34 statewide area, including two million in Washington State and 315,000 of whom are Tribal Members. Other partner organizations such as International Sustainable Nutrition Partners, Culturas Unidas Food Network, the Nakani Native Program, The Silent Taskforce, and Global Social Business Partners serve majority BIPOC communities.
In their demands, the 3-acre operation (serving Tribes, governments, veterans, low-income housing, food banks, food drives, faith-based organizations, pop-up events, and other community-based organizations) would be moved to sheep and pygmy goat barns in Monroe Fairgrounds and be reduced to, in the County’s words, “food bank distributors” assisting the “poor and infirm” only, allowing the County to use the space (known as the “Floor”) instead for horse trailer parking.
Farmer Frog Calling on County, State to Allow Life-Saving Food Distribution to Continue
“Our service, as one of the largest food distribution operations to all of the Tribes in Washington State is currently at significant risk,” says Szabolcs Pasztor, Director of Administration at Farmer Frog. She calls upon both Snohomish County, and Washington State, whose Recreation and Conservation Office has labeled Farmer Frog’s activities a “conversion” of the intended use of Paradise Farm to “reverse their decision, [so that] our services to the Tribes and many of the BIPOC communities in Washington State will remain uninjured, and we can continue our important work in saving lives.”
State, County Should Partner with Farmer Frog to Achieve Habitat Restoration Aims
Although the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) has labeled Farmer Frog’s regenerative agriculture and education activities a “conversion” of the land from its intended use for salmon habitat conservation, Farmer Frog has undertaken extensive habitat restoration activities on this land since 2015, using a “holistic whole system approach” to preserve forested areas, establish riparian buffers preserving key salmonid spawning and rearing areas. Farmer Frog is asking the County and RCO to reconsider and reverse the designation of its agricultural and food distribution activities as a “conversion” and enable this important work to continue unabated.
“To be consistent with our Mission, we must recognize that the County’s request and the State’s determination impacts not just Farmer Frog but all our food recipients of Washington State including all of the Tribes of Washington State. We need time to fully assess the impacts, continue consultations with the Community, and review the request to its full capacity. This Study summarizes our review as of February 2021 with facts and history on the Farm and our emergency response. We ask the community to review our important work and engage in this urgent community discussion around feeding those in need during this significant food crisis.”
Study on Farmer Frog’s Agricultural and Land Conservation Activities at Paradise Farm:
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In disagreement with the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office Determination regarding project no. #99-1705A, and in disagreement with the Snohomish County Parks and Recreation Department’s allegations regarding land use, the facts presented in this Study identify the following:
- The land uses at Paradise Farm, the historic farmstead near Little Bear Creek within the Lands of the Coast Salish Peoples, is in compliance with and exceedance of the State’s requirements, the deeds, covenants, and agreements running with the property, and the spirit and nature of the Land.
- The determination on Farmer Frog’s land use at Paradise Farm had not involved important members of the public. This includes but is not limited to: Farmer Frog, Tribal Governments of all the Tribes in Washington State, Coast Salish Peoples, neighboring governments impacted by Farmer Frog’s land use at Paradise Farm, community partners, and serviced communities and community members (the majority of whom are BIPOC).
- The determination may injure the services provided by Farmer Frog to the community particularly the BIPOC community and all the Tribes in Washington State. This includes three million Americans whom two million of which are Washingtonians and three hundred and fifteen thousand are Tribal members – Peoples Farmer Frog serviced in 2020 and will continue serving in 2021.
- The determination by Washington State in consultation with Snohomish County made in the Lands of Coast Salish Peoples without consultation of the Coast Salish Peoples, that may injure services provided to Indigenous Peoples, may also be denying Indigenous Peoples right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent – an international human right for all Peoples to self-determination and free pursuit of their economic, social, and cultural development embodied in the charter of the United Nations and the International Covenant on civil and political rights.
While consistent with the historical record of the Public Sector as a primary mechanism of instituting and reinforcing structural, institutional, and economic inequalities, Farmer Frog also expresses disappointment and condemnation for the County in its lack of transparency, personal accountability, and blatant complacency in its institutional perpetuation of matters concerning racial and social inequities. In our review of the County’s actions, we also ask key questions:
- How can a county agency determine the fate of emergency response services provided to several thousands in Snohomish County and one out of four Washingtonians?
- If the Snohomish County Parks and Recreation Department’s concern in questioning the State’s determination could disrupt all future funding opportunities is in fact based in reality, does this mean the systems of governance in the County and State are corrupt?
- Is it Snohomish County’s opinion that the “Poor and Infirm” include Tribal members, Tribal Elders, veterans, senior communities, single parent households, community in quarantine, LGBTQ+, folx who lost their livelihood, BIPOC communities, etc.? Furthermore, if these communities do not identify as “Poor and Infirm” does Snohomish County decide their ineligibility for assistance? If communities are discriminated against in supports received by Snohomish County, society risks pushing countless numbers of Peoples into shelter insecurity and even suicide (some of the greatest challenges for our neighborhoods these days)._
- If the above-mentioned opinion is not shared by Snohomish County, how could this racist and discriminatory language be present on legal documents? Does Snohomish County not have checks and balances that hold the historic colonial infrastructure accountable for the benefit of BIPOC communities?
Farmer Frog cannot and should not answer these questions. They require the immediate, full review, and consultation of the Tribes, local governments and government agencies, various community leaders, experts in social justice and equity, emergency response service providers, community partners, and many other vested parties.