Making it easier to urban farm in Federal Way

In the summer of 2012, Forterra began a project to improve access to healthy food in Federal Way. On December 3rd, 2013, the Federal Way City Council adopted the new Urban Agriculture Codes.

First, why does this matter?

Access to healthy food is crucial for the health of our communities. Food is not only nourishment for our bodies. It is often a centerpiece for family, community, innovation and economic vitality. Food links us with the richness of the land and connects our region’s dense urban centers with its rural farms. Unfortunately, many people don’t have access to healthy food and all it provides.

Limited access to healthy food is linked to a crisis of chronic disease in our country. These negative outcomes are worst in South King County. Often, a fast food restaurant or a gas station corner store is the only nearby option for purchasing food. Cities want to change this, but they often have outdated policies and codes on the books that prevent residents from growing and selling fresh foods. Federal Way asked us to help them fix this.

How we did it

We partnered with the City of Federal Way, Urban Food Link and community leaders to draft a new vision for food access in Federal Way. Under the banner of Urban Agriculture, the new policies and codes open the doors for growing food to feed families, selling food to supplement incomes and solidifying a place for a vibrant Farmers Market in downtown Federal Way.

Along the way, we:

  • Hosted focus groups with community members to create a shared vision
  • Educated city staff, Planning Commissioners and City Council members
  • Worked with Urban Food Link to write new policies and codes (laws) – see our report
  • Did a public land analysis and awesome Google Earth project (thanks, Matt Dressler!)
  • Trained local leaders in how to be effective advocates
  • Supported the advocates in speaking at 10 city meetings over 15 months.

Today we are celebrating a healthier community in Federal Way. And in January we’ll be hosting a celebration with the advocates. E-mail Becca Meredith at if you’d like more information about the project.

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