BCS Livestock has received a $205,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) to support the Methow Valley FoodShed. It was one of $16.5 million in grants WSDA awarded to 137 farms and food businesses in September.
The Local Food System Infrastructure grants were designed to improve the strength and resiliency of Washington’s food systems and to help small farms and food businesses recover from ongoing economic impacts from the COVID pandemic, according to WSDA Media Relations Coordinator Amber Betts.
BCS proposed to use the money to support the FoodShed by investing in a refrigerated delivery truck. They also sought money for improvements to the space used for assembling orders and for customer pick-up, such as a freezer and refrigerated display case and commercial kitchen equipment. BCS also asked for funding to increase marketing activities, Betts said.
Because WSDA received grant proposals totaling more than $148 million — more than nine times the available funding — the agency provided only partial funding to grant beneficiaries. BCS Livestock did not receive enough money to pay for all of the items in their proposal, so they will be prioritizing among their proposed budget items, Betts said.
“Each application represented an opportunity to build capacity and resilience into our food system; we really wish we could fund many more of these worthwhile activities,” WSDA Regional Markets Program Manager Laura Raymond said.
Grant amounts ranged from $10,000 to $750,000, but most were under $200,000. The state Legislature used funds from the federal American Recovery Plan Act and prioritized small businesses.
There were six grant recipients in Okanogan County. BCS Livestock was the only one in the Methow Valley.
The Methow Valley FoodShed is a project aimed at supporting local farmers and connecting them directly with members of the community. Through an online market, customers can purchase a variety of fresh groceries for weekly pickup, including beef, lamb, pork, milk, eggs, fruits, veggies and honey.
The FoodShed was founded in 2021 by BCS Livestock co-owner and operator Casey Smith. Smith connected with a handful of other local farms — including Twisp River Grain and Mill, Doubletree Farm, Wild Plum Farm and Nettle Grove Farm — to develop partnerships and offer a wider range of foods to online customers.