The finder tool is simple to use, but comprehensive, with over 1,800 listings of farms, restaurants, and other food producers and businesses.
Looking for the perfect CSA this summer? Seeking gooseberries (or kale, or flowers, or lamb) grown near you? Want to find restaurants in your area offering seasonal, locally sourced dishes? Or would you just like to feel more deeply connected to the food you eat, the people who grow it, and the land we all share?
Red Dog farm in Chimacum, protected by a Land Trust easement, provides fresh local food for our community.
Eating local — and supporting our community’s farmers, fishers, and other food producers — is easy with the Eat Local First Washington Food & Farm Finder. This simple-to-use but comprehensive online tool is a project of the statewide group Eat Local First (ELF) Collaborative, a group of Washington food system organizations that formed in 2020 in order to merge various online farm finders into a single platform.
Today, the Finder connects consumers to more than 1,800 farmers, growers, producers and businesses (like restaurants, grocers, and wholesalers) across the state of Washington.
“Anyone who wants to experience and eat local food can benefit from this tool,” says Lisa Vaughn, Eat Local First WA Food & Farm Finder Liaison at the Washington State University Clallam County Extension. “Also, [it benefits] anyone who’s producing, harvesting, and selling local food — particularly farmers. The Finder helps farmers expand their markets while helping consumers tap into the tremendous amount of food that we grow and produce right here in Washington.”
Tomatoes grown at SpringRain Farm in Chimacum, protected by a Land Trust easement in 2008.
If you reside in Washington, you can enter your location by zip code or town/city name and use the detailed search criteria to find food grown, caught, raised, or made near you, navigating the handy map to explore further. Filter your search to find specific products, delivery options, and more. You can also find a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share that fits your needs and tastes, locate farmers markets, farm stands, and wholesale vendors, read stories highlighting Washington food producers (including several you may recognize from here in Jefferson County), and more.
All across the state, farmers, ranchers, and fishers are active stewards of the land and waters we all rely on. By spending money on locally grown and produced products, we can support the land while building a meaningful relationship with farmers, farm workers, and the family farms that are so important to the cultural and agricultural heritage of our region. Buying local also keeps money circulating in our local economies and strengthens our regional food systems. Plus, seasonal, sustainably raised and caught food is often fresher and more flavorful than food that must be trucked or shipped long distances.
Lisa says, “We want people to know not only how important it is for our communities to support local food, but also how great it is for individuals and families to be able to enjoy the abundance of food that’s available locally in Washington State.”
Working the land at Midori Farm in Quilcene, protected by a Land Trust easement.
Through a combination of funding sources (federal and state grants and contracts, local foundations, agencies, and sponsors) ELF is able to maintain the Washington Food & Farm Finder with no cost to those listing products at this time. Each farm or fisher listed on the site must be locally owned and operated in Washington and sell products that they’ve grown or helped produce on their farm, or fish that they’ve caught in waters bordering Washington, Canada, or Alaska.
Listed food businesses (like restaurants and grocery stores) must be owned and operated in Washington, purchase from at least two local producers in Washington on a monthly basis, and pledge to shift 10% of their food budget to more local products. Nonprofit organizations based in Washington State who work to contribute to a sustainable food system (such as food banks) are also invited to make listings. You can register to make a listing here.
The ELF Collaborative was officially established in 2020 by six organizations with common goals to support local farms and food businesses: Sustainable Connections, Tilth Alliance, WSU Food Systems Program, WSU Regional Small Farms Program (covering Jefferson, Clallam and Kitsap counties), Pierce County Fresh, and The Local Food Trust.
In the summer of that year, aiming to respond quickly to disruptions in regular market channels caused by the COVID pandemic, the ELF Collaborative partnered with Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) to create a comprehensive online hub to connect consumers with all known farm and local food directories in the state. In November 2020, after merging several databases and maps including Tilth Alliance’s Farm Guide, Pierce County Fresh’s online directory, WSU’s Farm Finder, and Sustainable Connections’ Food Atlas, the Washington Food & Farm Finder was launched with more than 1,600 mapped and searchable listings for local farms, farmers markets, fishers, food businesses, and local food resources in 37 counties, and it continues to grow.
The Finder’s launch that fall was the result of 10 years of work; Sustainable Connections, a nonprofit headquartered in Bellingham, began the Eat Local First campaign in 2011 and published the first version of an online tool in 2017. In October 2021, the USDA awarded a Farmer’s Market Promotion Program award of $517,000 to Sustainable Connections as the Grant Administrator for the Collaborative’s three-year project: “Creating an online wholesale marketing infrastructure to increase equitable market access, digital proficiency, and sales for small to midsize farms in Washington State.”
Farmers harvesting crops at Kodama Farm in Chimacum, which is protected by a Land Trust easement.
Also in October 2021, a “Find a Wholesale Vendor” tab was added to better assist school districts and other institutions trying to source locally grown produce. With funding from WSDA and USDA, ELF is currently working to enhance this feature.
“It’s going to be a real asset not only for schools and other institutional purchasers, but for businesses like restaurants that want to highlight local foods on their menu, and grocery stores that want to work with local growers and producers,” Lisa says.
Another addition to the Finder is the “Find a CSA” feature. Advanced filters allow you to find and learn specific and up-to-date information on farms’ CSA options, such as whether or not they’re accepting new signups, which seasonal products they’re offering, and which pickup options are available.
“It’s amazing how many different types of products and packages in CSAs are out there right now,” Lisa says. “The ‘Find a CSA’ feature is an easy-to-use tool that can connect people to the specific products and kinds of packages they’re looking for.”
“People are really excited about the Finder,” Lisa says, adding that some users have discovered that not only can they use it to find local food near them, but also to source local food on vacations and travel across the state.
As they work to expand and streamline the tool, ELF is excited to bring more awareness to the Finder, such as through their advertising on the ferry system and at SeaTac airport, and encourage more farmers and food producers to register. If you need any assistance with registering, creating a listing, or updating an existing listing, please feel free to email Lisa at lisa.vaughn[at]wsu.edu.
Joe Goularte (left) looks over Ruby Ranch in Beaver Valley with Al Cairns (former Jefferson County Conservation District manager).
The statewide ELF Collaborative is sometimes confused with the similarly named Eat Local First Olympic Peninsula (ELF OlyPen), but they are two different groups; ELF OlyPen works regionally, in Jefferson and Clallam counties, and partners with the larger, statewide ELF to promote the Eat Local First brand and campaigns. This September, ELF OlyPen will sponsor Eat Local First Month, a month-long celebration of local farms and food on the North Olympic Peninsula. Both the statewide and OlyPen group work together on several campaigns throughout the year in which they encourage people to participate and get involved with local food.
At Jefferson Land Trust, we work with farmers, partners, and many others to protect working agricultural land in Jefferson County and ensure it remains available as farmland for all time. Thus far, we’ve protected 17 local farms comprising more than 1,300 acres. We’ve helped protect historic dairies, like Chimacum Dairy (now Finnriver Farm & Cidery) and Kawamoto Farm in Quilcene; organic and/or regenerative farms, like Kodama and Red Dog farms in Chimacum and Midori Farm in Quilcene; and family ranches like Ruby Ranch in Chimacum. Suffice it to say, at the Land Trust, we’re big believers in eating local and supporting our community farms.