Woodinville, WA –March 12, 2021 – At the end of February, the Times had found us in Washington State at Paradise Farm. With only a 10-day notice, Snohomish County Conservation and Natural Resources demanded on February 16, 2021, Farmer Frog relocate or cease its emergency response hunger relief operation located at the headquarters in Paradise Farm, Woodinville WA, to the Evergreen State Monroe Fairgrounds by February 26, 2021. Since May of 2020, the Headquarters has operated as a Unified Command Center for Covid-19 with the Sister nonprofit The National Tribal Emergency Management Council (NTEMC). The partnership with over 700 other organizations distributed over 37 million pounds of food and lifesaving supplies at the main logistics hub of the operation known as the “Floor”. This includes all the Tribes of Washington State, Tribal governments and Tribal communities, governments and government agencies, veteran groups, low-income and section 8 housing, food banks, food drives, faith-based organizations, pop-up events, and community-based organizations.
If Farmer Frog would not relocate from the Woodinville 3-acre facility to the “Pygmy Goat Barn (#608) and Sheep Barn (#607)” at the Fairgrounds, by 5:00 PM on Friday, Snohomish County would “take necessary actions” to ensure the emergency response hunger relief operation cease. The relocation also required Farmer Frog to limit the broad services “loading of boxed food items to food bank distributors responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with food assistance for the poor and infirm”. Left with no options, Zsofia Pasztor, Executive Co-Director of Farmer Frog, asked in an open letter on February 26, 2021: “will Snohomish County send in the bulldozers at 5 pm today and start destroying property? Will the Sheriff come, in and start arresting us without a court ordered vacate or eviction notice, during a COVID-19 eviction moratorium? How far will Snohomish County go to stop the Community from doing our best to alleviate the tragic impacts of this pandemic? And lastly, does Snohomish County wish to collaborate with the impacted communities?”
After a letter from an attorney and an overwhelming public outcry from the food recipients, primarily Black, Indigenous, and Peoples of Color (BIPOC), the County agreed to let operations continue until a solution was found and the voices of the impacted communities were heard.
Farmer Frog publishes 1,167-page study five days after 10-day notice
Five days after the notice on February 21, 2021, Farmer Frog published a 1,167-page study that analyzed the relocation request. With a factual and legal overview of the operation, Farmer Frog found the County agency request would limit food assistance during a deadly pandemic and an annual winter food shortage. Being limited only “to food bank distributors”, hundreds of organizations including all the Tribes of Washington State and most of the BIPOC and Veteran communities, would be ineligible as food recipients as required by the County.
The study provided three different proposals to relocating to the Evergreen State Fairgrounds with the full cost of the move detailed for the County in their offer of a “no cost alternative”. Yet, the County refused any negotiation with Farmer Frog, denied the three proposals, “removed the Fair Park from consideration, and have no other suitable County-owned alternatives available.”
Snohomish County limitations on services are fundamentally racist
In the County’s demands making most of Farmer Frog’s two million food recipients in Washington State ineligible for food assistance, the request would have been just one more barrier for BIPOC communities as part of remnant colonial infrastructure. With the County’s own legal documents classified the food recipients as “poor and infirm”, Farmer Frog asked key questions in the Study:
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 calls on community to tell the world how #RichAndStrong we are
In direct counter to the County’s remarks of “Poor and Infirm” Farmer Frog started a public social media campaign called #RichAndStrong and invites the community to show the County the strengths and riches we all have. The Farmer Frog Team notes “we ourselves struggle in the face of food insecurity and even benefit from the programs we support. We are not poor. We are not weak and/or sick (i.e. infirm). We are a community bravely facing institutional challenges.”
Farmer Frog again asks for the public’s voice to be heard, to join the #RichAndStrong movement, and be present at the table to discuss equitable Hunger Relief operations in Washington State.
“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 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. Farmer Frog again asks for the public’s voice to be heard in this important conversation and calls on the public to join the #RichAndStrong movement and be present at the table to discuss equitable Hunger Relief operations in Washington State.”