Earlier this year Forterra teamed up with the International Rescue Committee and Global to Local to build a new community garden in Kent’s West Hill neighborhood to serve local refugee, immigrant, and low-incomes families.
Thanks to support from the King Conservation District, what started as a thicket of blackberry is now a three-quarter acre garden and orchard to serve thirty-five families.
This garden is part of a larger urban agricultural initiative by Forterra that began in 2010. In Tacoma, Forterra co-hosted the city’s first Community Gardens Summit, and housed the community garden program, Harvest Pierce County, during its pilot years. Meanwhile in Tukwila, Forterra began our partnership with local churches and the International Rescue Committee, to build the Namaste Garden in Tukwila, which gives plots to over 90 families annually—mostly Burmese and Bhutanese refugees. Several years later, Forterra helped the City of SeaTac create their first community garden and engaged the Federal Way community to develop opportunities for residents to grow and sell food at their local farmers’ market.
All of this work is part of Forterra’s goal to improve regional livability and equity by strengthening the local food system. These earlier projects demonstrated the possibilities for urban agriculture to address critical local needs like food security, while creating opportunities for microenterprise.
Forterra is now building on the foundation laid by these projects, focusing in South King County—a region that has a disproportionate number of people living in poverty, and growing populations of refugees and immigrants. In partnership with the Food Innovation Network (FIN), Forterra is working with local governments, non-profit organizations and community members to invigorate the local food economy in South King County.
Forterra’s role in this work is what’s always been center to our organization—land. By securing keystone lands for food production and food-related businesses, the economic barriers for the next generation of farmers are lowered—especially among marginalized communities.
Food and places to grow food are key to life and community. Forterra is working to ensure families have fresh and healthy food, and that land is secured for both current and future generations.