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Planting the Seeds: Moving to More Local Food in Western Washington

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Planting the Seeds: Moving to More Local Food in Western Washington summarizes findings of the Western Washington Foodshed Study, a project conducted in 2011-2012 by American Farmland Trust and a planning studio at the University of Washington. Cover image of seedlings for Planting the Seeds report

Planting the Seeds takes on two big questions:

  • How local is our food supply now?
  • How could we make our food supply more local?

This report considers why local food matters and analyzes four ways western Washington might be able to develop a more local food supply. These include: bringing land back into food production, increasing yields on active farmland, reducing food waste, and changing people’s diets. For each of these options, what would be involved, the likely impact at various levels of implementation, and the financial, environmental, and social/political costs is examined.

What’s a Foodshed?

A foodshed is an area around a population center that supplies food to that population center.  For this study, the foodshed is assumed to include the entirety of the western part of the state, from the Pacific Ocean to the crest of the Cascades.

Planting the Seeds also recognizes some of the organizations and agencies that are working on these issues in the region. We live in a free market economy, and changes to our food supply will largely come from greater education, incentives, and fundamental changes in consumer behavior. The non-profit sector is in a crucial position to lead these incremental shifts in the marketplace that will result in a new local food economy. These groups deserve our support. They are also listed in the report in an effort to find a home for the substantial amount of additional work needed to flesh out alternatives, pursue promising solutions, and keep the rest of us in touch. 

Throughout Washington state, American Farmland Trust continues to work on the issue of how to bring additional land into food production, and we’re happy to partner with others willing to take on leadership roles to apply these findings. We hope this foodshed study has whetted the appetite of the region to continue work on developing a more local food system.


American Farmland Trust