Off of Highway 162, nestled between Puyallup and Orting, lies Mother Earth Farm, a little-known organic farm that works with incarcerated women to provide food specifically for food banks.
It’s the only farm of its kind in the country.
Mother Earth Farm is part of the Emergency Food Network, which strives to provide Pierce County with a consistent, diverse and nutritious food supply. The 8-acre farm is just one of many food contributors to the nonprofit.
While the farm sits on 8 acres, Mother Earth staff, volunteers and crew members utilize 5 of the acres to supply food banks in Sumner, Bonney Lake, Orting, Eatonville and Enumclaw.
“We’re farming in a place with a really long and rich history of farming,” assistant farm manager Grayson Crane said. “Natives and early settlers have both farmed here.”
Mother Earth Farm supplies five food banks in the winter and 15 in the summer with fresh mixed vegetables, apples, plums and peaches. The farm also grows berries, which Harvest Pierce County will often turn into jam.
It’s really amazing that everything we grow here goes directly to the food bank. The food that is grown here is grown with care. For those who are hungry, getting healthy and nutritious food grown with care is so important.
Grayson Crane, assistant farm manager
“We supply over 100,000 pounds of food to food banks each year,” farm manager Anika Moran said. “Our food is often at local food banks within 24 hours after harvest.”
A green house was recently constructed on the farm to provide year-round growing of lettuce, mustard greens, tomatoes and more.
“Fresh produce is not very common at food banks,” Moran said. “This allows (a) choice for those who may not be able to choose. There’s a lot of hungry people in Pierce County.”
The impact of Mother Earth Farm doesn’t just stop at providing local food banks with fresh and nutritious food. The farm also has a job and educational program for women from the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Purdy, Monday through Thursdays.
“We’ve started hiring them as crew members,” Moran said. “We also give them a work reference once they’re released.”
The work crew from Purdy is also given a culminating project that the women work on while at the farm, starting with a budget and a project proposal.
“Our crew members do everything from seeding to light construction to harvesting,” Moran said.
In addition to the crew members, the farm also relies on volunteers on Fridays and Saturdays to help with everything from planting to harvesting.
“It’s really amazing that everything we grow here goes directly to the food bank,” Crane said. “The food that is grown here is grown with care. For those who are hungry, getting healthy and nutritious food grown with care is so important.”