The Sammamish Valley Alliance has come up with a fresh and healthier take on drive-through food.
The nonprofit group is using grant funding from the city of Woodinville to both support local farms and provide produce bags to residents in a socially distant manner. From 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays through the end of harvest, assorted produce bags will be available for purchase at pop-up stand in the Sammamish Valley Grange Hall parking lot.
Each bag costs $30, and the fruits, vegetables and sometimes flowers will vary depending on the day’s harvest and participating farms’ availability, according to SVA Executive Director Brenda Vanderloop.
With the cancellation of local farmers markets and closure of many restaurants, several valley growers found they had no way to distribute their products, Vanderloop said.
“The members and volunteers of Sammamish Valley Alliance have always wanted to be in a supportive position to assist the farmers in the valley in whatever way we can,” she said.
Usually, that support comes largely in the form of events such as the Spring Celebration in May or Harvest Celebration in September. With the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, the model for the organization’s support had to change.
Around the same time the nonprofit's members were seeking new ways to support farmers, Woodinville City Council made available new human services grants aimed at combating food insecurity.
“We thought the best way (to help) was just to do a little pop-up stand,” Vanderloop said.
With the $2,500 grant from the city, SVA purchases excess food from valley farmers to put together in a weekly produce bag. The Alliance has another grant application pending with the city for an additional $7,500, she said.
Money from sales of the produce will also go back into buying more produce. The remaining funds at the end of the season will be donated to the Woodinville Storehouse Food Bank, Vanderloop said.
On July 28, the group hosted its first pop-up stand with little advertising as a sort of trial run, she said.
“I think the first week really went remarkably well, and the community was really supportive,” she said.
This week's bags included snap peas, pole beans, two varieties of lettuce, potatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, fresh herbs and a fresh flower bouquet.
The participating farms and produce will vary each week and be highly dependent on what’s available.
"Usually, it will probably be five or six farmers that will provide produce each week," Vanderloop said.
The length of the season and thus the duration of the program is also highly variable, but she anticipates it will last through September.
Bags are available on a first-come-first-served basis, and only cash and checks are accepted.
“We want the community to know they can get local produce … and enjoy local food,” Vanderloop said.
- Sammamish Valley Fresh Produce bags are available for purchase from 3:30 to 5 p.m., Tuesdays at 14654 148th Ave. NE, Woodinville.
- To volunteer with the program, contact Brenda Vanderloop at firstname.lastname@example.org