Week 86 - Food is Free
For the 86th week of "7 QUESTION SUNDAY" we shine the spotlight on another influential individual from the PNW. David Thompson is the Director of Food is Free Tacoma and the President of Food is Free Washington, a group working hard to put a new spin on garden to table to keep the community fed.
4EVRGRN: Hey, DT! Tell us a little about yourselves.
DT: We are a food-sharing organization that advocates for front yard gardens and sharing among neighbors. Our Mission is to grow community and food while helping gain independence from a broken agricultural system. Tacoma Urban Farm is a charity garden of 4,200 sq. ft. and growing.
1) What inspired you to start Food is Free 253?
DT: I was inspired to start Food is Free Tacoma after discovering Food is Free on Facebook. The idea of building community by giving away the bounty from your garden was magical in its simplicity. I had a 2000 sq ft garden at my home that I had named Tacoma Urban Farm and had an overabundance of produce that I was having a hard time giving away. I put a small table out by the street and put about 30 heads of lettuce on it and made a paper sign. It was late spring and the sun wilted all the lettuce but I kept going, learning along the way.
2) Favorite local product?
DT: Wingman's Ace IPA
3) What can other local businesses or people do to best support your mission?
DT: Donate and volunteer to our project. We are always in need of labor, materials, and supplies to advance our mission of bringing Food security to our city. We are a growing grassroots organization and we need volunteers from admin and legal to construction and logistics. We have 3 large garden projects in the works so far and another one proposed, we have our 30 Gardens of the People street gardens, and our food rescue program going on this season. So, there are plenty of opportunities to come help the Project.
4) How has the response been to the food tables?
DT: The response to the food tables has been very unexpected. The original concept was to put your excess produce on the table and share with your neighbors. I thought other neighbors would see the table and donate their excess produce from their gardens to the table as well. I didn't anticipate that people would donate their leftover pantry items. The tables are open, so dry goods wouldn't work in the rain. It was summer though. Table managers started buying food for their tables. Followed by people putting out coolers with perishable food like meat and dairy. Then folks started sharing home cooked meals and leftovers. What started out as a simple way to share home grown produce became mini neighborhood food banks without regulations or rules. The food safety risk was enormous. We responded by certifying our sharing tables and following the Washington state department of health's guidelines for food sharing tables and pantries.
5) Wildest PNW experience?
DT: The massive windstorm of 2006. I was up in Eatonville when the 70mph gust came thru and scattered trees all over the roads. Power was out everywhere and I lived in Elbe. It took a week to get power back and the temps plummeted while it was out.
6) Where’s your favorite place to escape in the PNW?
DT: LaPush visiting my good friend Chuck Harrison.
7) Best meal in the PNW?
DT: Gateway to India on 6th Ave in Tacoma.
For more information on how to access the Food is Free tables or to find volunteer opportunities visit www.foodisfree253.com and follow them on IG @tacomaurbanfarmer