SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. - Food banks and philanthropy have been lifelines for people suffering from food insecurity across our region during this pandemic. A non-profit called Farmer Frog in Snohomish County also has been doing what it can to help feed hungry families.
But, Snohomish County leaders worry the farm’s mission of goodwill has grown too large and claims the non-profit is causing big problems for neighbors and a nearby nature conservation area after it expanded distribution of foods.
The farm’s distribution area is only one of the county’s complaints. The physical space where food deliveries come and go is not part of the farm’s lease, and the county claims the non-profit lacks a legal right to use it as such.
Plus an adjacent parking lot has become filled with deep and wide potholes. Big-rig trucks come and go with deliveries, driving over the gravel parking area. Instead, the county claims the non-profit is not allowed to use the lot, which is instead by hikers visiting a nearby trailhead.
Volunteer Amy Drackert began helping out at the non-profit last year when the pandemic cut back her hours at work.
"This is just a little bit of help that can get them through tough times," she said.
On Friday, she helped load food for other volunteers who planned to distribute the items in neighborhoods of need. The quality and volume of available foods are why fellow volunteer Janice Richardson returns to Farmer Frog.
"I just wanted to do the little bit I can do," said Janice.
Tom Teigen leads the Conservation and Natural Resources division for Snohomish County. He told Q13 News he appreciates the non-profit’s work to combat hunger but insists the impact to the Paradise Valley Conservation Area is not acceptable.
"It’s important work but this is a completely inappropriate site," he said.
The county offered space to the farm at a nearby fairground but costs and logistic issues were cited as reasons the non-profit declined.
The county said it could be forced into legal action should the farm not vacate the areas it was operating in violation of their lease, but the farm’s leadership vowed to battle the county via legal means as well.
"Where is the county going to stop?" asked the farm’s co-director Zsofia Pasztor.
Late Friday the county announced it had come to an agreement to extend talks with the farm and representatives served by the food distribution efforts next week.