The Whatcom Food Network, formed in 2010, is a county-wide collaboration among organizations focused on food issues in our area. Its stated mission is “working to build common understanding and facilitate collaborative efforts toward an equitable, sustainable, and healthy food system for all.” To me, this means supporting farmers who grow healthful food on healthy farms, supporting processors and retailers who keep food here in Whatcom County, and getting nutritious local food into the kitchens and pantries of all Whatcom residents.
Various groups within the WFN have ties to every aspect of the food system, from farmland preservation to consumer access. Local organizations are listed on the WFN resources page under several distinct categories: Land and Water; Farming and Fishing; Processing; Distribution; and Consumption. Within each category, groups are identified under the headings of Technical Support; Education and Advocacy; and/or Policy and Funding.
What can the WFN do for YOU? While the young network is still in the planning phases under the guidance of a new steering committee, it already offers some wonderful community resources. Its website, hosted by Washington State University’s Whatcom Extension, is full of information about local food issues, and their links page (http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/foodnetwork/links.html) is a great place to start if you’d like to know more about food issues in this region.
I expect Whatcom Food Network to become much more visible in the public eye in the years to come, but the fact that this group even exists is a good sign about our county’s changing awareness of food issues. The fact that we have so many food-related agencies and organizations, that they are so numerous as to require a network to channel their shared efforts, is very positive. We live in exciting times!