LAKEWOOD — It all starts with a seed, but these seeds need warmth and moisture to grow into the 150,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables provided to area food banks every year. Mother Earth Farm’s current greenhouse is literally held together with duct tape. Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Great Partnership Fund, seedlings can begin their journey from the farm to the table in a brand new greenhouse.
The Green Partnership is a collaboration between the Pierce Conservation District and the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation. Over the years, the fund has helped Mother Earth farm with equipment and staff.
Mother Earth Farm is a project of Emergency Food Network. In ten growing seasons – 2000 through 2010 – Mother Earth Farm has produced over 1.2 million pounds of fruits and vegetables for low-income children and adults through Pierce County’s food sites. Each year, production accounts for over 100,000 meals for children, adults, and seniors in need.
More than 1,000 individuals volunteer at the Farm annually. This includes school children, master gardeners, prisoners, employees of major corporations and small businesses, physically and mentally challenged individuals and community members. Volunteers have come to the Farm from as far as San Francisco, California and Japan.
Formed in May of 2000 as a program of the Emergency Food Network of Tacoma-Pierce County, Mother Earth Farm is an eight-acre organic farm located in the lush Puyallup Valley. This project was developed to provide a stable, internal source of fresh food for EFN and the 67 food banks, hot meal sites, and shelters it serves in Pierce County. Mother Earth Farm works to achieve the following goals:
- to feed people of need in Pierce County through the Emergency Food Network,
- to educate people about the value of farming, environmental stewardship and protecting the ecosystem, and
- to support a diverse community centered in soil as volunteers and staff work towards cultivating and harvesting earth’s bounty.
Mother Earth Farm’s Manager, Carrie Little, educates volunteers from schools, universities, businesses, churches, and the broader community about organic farming and environmental sustainability during shifts at the farm. The bulk of the farm’s volunteer work force is comprised of women from the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Purdy who help with a wide variety of farm tasks, including planting seeds, tending to plants, harvesting produce, and maintaining farm buildings.
Crops grown on the farm include 22 varieties of tomatoes, 12 varieties of peppers, 8 varieties of winter squash, zucchini, kale, yellow wax beans, cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, beets, purple beans, apples, and 8 varieties of lettuce. Mother Earth Farm opened an interpretive center in 2005 to expand opportunities to educate about organic farming, environmental sustainability, and the importance of maintaining healthy and nutritional lifestyles. Mother Earth Farm also maintains a greenhouse, hives of bees to produce honey, and a flower garden and picnic shelter.
If you are interested in volunteering at or supporting Mother Earth Farm or would like more information, please contact the Emergency Food Network at (253) 584-1040. You can also learn more about the Emergency Food Network and Mother Earth Farm by visiting www.efoodnet.org