SnoValley Tilth Produce Processing Facility Feasibility Study

By Alison Leber, Leber Consulting.

With more than 5 million consumers in the Puget Sound region, there is increasing public demand for locally produced food.  Despite this demand, many King County farms are limited in their ability to provide year-round access to local products because of the lack of food processing and related infrastructure available in close proximity to their farming operations.

Increasing the availability of processing infrastructure would allow local farms to create value-added products that would extend their season, provide additional revenue, and gain access into regional wholesale and foodservice markets.    

In 2016, SnoValley Tilth received a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Business Development Grant Program to assess the feasibility of running a produce processing facility to serve the farmers and growers in the Snoqualmie Valley. Leber Consulting was retained to perform the feasibility study. The principal objectives of the feasibility study were:

  • Assess the market feasibility of four value-added produce product lines (beets, cabbage, carrot and broccoli) by gathering data on the costs of processing, marketing and distribution of each of the model product lines;
  • Identify existing processing facilities in the region and the scope of services offered by these processors to assess their accessibility to Snoqualmie Valley Farmers, and;
  • Collect preliminary data on the cost of constructing a produce processing facility in the Snoqualmie Valley, including equipment and build out.

To perform this study, input was sought from multiple stakeholders representing buyers from across food industry segments, Snoqualmie Valley farmers, existing processors, government agencies and other experts in the Puget Sound region.  Additionally, literature on agriculture processing infrastructure in Washington State was reviewed, focusing on Western Washington.

Key findings from this work include:   

  • There is a viable market for two of the four value-added lines researched (shredded cabbage and shredded & sticked carrots). The other two products (frozen broccoli and pickled beets) are not currently feasible due to a lack of processing infrastructure for freezing and acidified foods. There are acidified food processors in Oregon but the high costs of processing, minimum lots size and transportation would not be economical for the level of buyer demand
  • There is limited existing secondary produce processing (acidified foods, hot fill lines, freezing) infrastructure in the region. There are adequate minimal post-harvest processing/custom cut and cold-pack processors in the region to meet demand.
  • There is a strong case to be made for investment in a GAP certified Aggregation Point for Snoqualmie Valley farmers, possibly with additional, select minimal post-harvesting machinery offering services on a fee-for-service basis.  
  • There are opportunities to explore partnerships with public and or private businesses to develop regional processing facilities that would offer co-packing for acidified foods, hot fill lines and frozen produce processing.

Farm King County – Farm Resources at the Ready


How many hours have you spent searching the world wide web for farm related information? Farm King County launched this past spring as an antidote to the endless internet search.  The foundation of this effort is a web-based directory of farming resources that contains information relevant to starting, operating and growing a successful farm enterprise.  This project is a collaborative effort of multiple organizations committed to expanding the local agricultural economy and while the project is named for the most populous county in the state, its resources are relevant to farm businesses beyond its border.


Find information about state soil surveys, resources about FSMA and food safety, flood and weather information, dates of upcoming events, or submit an email to receive technical assistance from professional advisors. Whatever you are looking for, make Farm King County your first stop for information, services and technical resources that can help you establish or grow your farm business.  Do you have employees who are more comfortable communicating in their language of origin? Their collection of translated written resources is extensive, especially regarding FSMA and Food Safety.  Better yet, this is a project that aims to grow and change as farmer’s needs do the same so check out the website and use the resources but also let them know what additional information you’d like to find there!








Request for Proposals: Feasibility Study and Business Plan



SnoValley Tilth is excited to announce that we have received funding from USDA Rural Development to lay the groundwork for a produce aggregation and processing facility based in the Snoqualmie Valley.

We are seeking proposals for qualified consultants. Please click on link below for a PDF of the RFP. The deadline for proposals is September 1, 2016.

Produce Processing Feasibility Study and Business Plan RFP

Community Roots Day at Carnation Farmers Market


A market of bountiful produce, celebrating the intersection of community, health & agriculture.

Come to Carnation Farmers Market’s Community Roots Day on Tuesday, June 28th. Stay for an hour or two (or three), support the Carnation Farmers Market and SnoValley Tilth. The last Tuesday of every month is always filled with loads of market fun and lots of fresh foods! 

For our June Community Roots Day we are excited to welcome our neighbors in town, Hopelink Harvest, who will be facilitating a cooking demo with fresh goodies from the market and informing us about their important role in our community. Jack Ballard will be hosting an open-mic night for our Music on the Grass Series, providing musicians of all levels and experiences t21232457679_261fb586eb_zo have the opportunity to perform; this is especially geared towards youth musicians and all are welcome! One of our market artists, Joe Lee Davidson will be teaching children how to make their own coloring book and we will have market bingo happening all day to give young market goers the opportunity to meet their farmer and learn about what is in season at the market.  You can also ‘Take a Walk with the Doc’ around town with our resident doctor, Dr. Jodie Murdoch, to learn more about the markets role with health and wellness. Tolt River Family Medicine will be sharing Emergency Preparedness Information, and Market Tours will also be available upon request lead by our wonderful market ambassador. Join us in participating in a few of these farm-y activities and in celebrating our Community!


21448817816_7bcf4b15cc_zCommunity Roots Day is a special event to celebrate education, art, and culture at the farmers market. With cooking demos, children’s activities, and live music, Community Roots Days are a wonderful addition to our market and make the Carnation Farmers Market more than just a way to support your local farmers, but also a way to eat, learn, and create.



The Carnation Farmers Market is open every Tuesday from 3-7 pm right in the heart of downtown Carnation.

Fish Farm Flood Committee Update

Photo Credit: Mitchell Haindfield

What would the Snoqualmie Valley look like if we had the perfect balance of farming and wildlife habitat? How different would it look from how it looks today? As long as farmers have been farming, there have been conflicts about farmland and fish habitat across North America. Here in the Snoqualmie Valley, environmentally conscious farmers and landowners have planted many acres in shrubs and trees for fish habitat improvement. Despite the benefits of these plantings, when they occur on productive farmland, they take that land out of production, permanently.

King County created the Fish Farm Flood Advisory Committee in the Fall of 2013 in order to get advice on how to balance the competing needs of farms, fish, and flood risk reduction. Four Snoqualmie Valley farmers are volunteering their time to serve on that Advisory Committee and are working with other committee members to find solutions and come to a mutually beneficial agreement. I got involved in the process about a year ago, when one of those farmers came to SnoValley Tilth and explained the pressure they were under. The four farmers were increasingly worried about making major decisions without broader community consultation. It was clear they needed support. 

The King Conservation District (KCD) stepped forward with some funding to actively engage the community in the conversation. This initiated a project to talk with landowners and residents across the Snoqualmie Valley about their thoughts on issues surrounding the Fish Farm Flood process. Two KCD staff, the Executive Director of the Snoqualmie Valley Preservation Alliance, and myself are the team conducting these discussions.

We have now spoken to about 50 Snoqualmie Valley landowners and residents and I am amazed by the amount of consensus there is in our community. The large majority of landowners and residents are concerned about predicting and managing flooding and fixing drainage issues on farmland. 

Many exciting and innovative ideas have come from these discussions, such as the idea to create a distributed flood monitoring system that would allow people in the floodplain to upload pictures and other data in real-time, during a flood event. This information would be invaluable to people located downstream where that flood has not yet reached, and it would also create an archive of flood data that would help us understand how floods are changing over time. 

The data we’ve collected through these consultations has helped the farmer representatives feel more comfortable representing local landowners and farmers as they grapple with an agreement, which the Advisory Committee is now drafting. The County’s intention is to have that agreement signed by all Advisory Committee members by the end of May 2016. 

Hannah Cavendish-Palmer

SnoValley Tilth Board President

For more information:

Come to our April Potluck and Presentation if you would like to learn more about this process.

April Potluck Topic: Fish Farm Flood Progress Report

April 11 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Carnation Tree Farm  |  31523 NE 40th  |  Carnation, WA 98014

Learn about the Fish Farm Flood project, its potential outcomes and the structure of the agreement that is coming together.  There will be a discussion and a Q&A session. This first hour is for sharing a potluck meal; the second hour is devoted to our discussion or presentation for the evening.

Visit the county’s Fish Farm Flood website for additional information: King County Fish Farm Flood Website

Guest Post: Pasture-Raised Poultry and Egg Co-op Forming

As you might know, King County Conservation District awarded a grant to fund a Puget Sound Pasture-Raised Poultry and Egg Cooperative (name TBD by committee). A small group of farmers are working out the legal details with KCD and should finish by mid Dec. We also secured a Northwest Agricultural Business Center grant to fund the creation of the CoOp legal entity. Also, thanks much to everyone who participated in our early meetings and survey, as your input and ideas were critical in making this possible. We’re excited to get the cooperative up and running in 2016!

Getting up and running briefly means three things:

All prospective cooperative members meet in January for orientation to cooperative principles and our cooperative’s mission, vision and goals, with Northwest Agricultural Business Center leading the process.
Form a steering committee to assist with official incorporation and startup logistics – there is a lot to do and there are many ways to contribute as we start up.
By spring/summer, we strive to have a growing supply of pastured, organic eggs to supply as we have numerous accounts to fulfill. The eggs will come from farmers like yourself.
Why are we telling you? We want to rekindle interest on the part of SnoValley Tilth members and other farmers, now that the grant process is complete.

Next Deadlines:

Early Dec: Work with KCD to finalize the grant.
Dec 29th: Meeting with those interested in being part of the start-up. See Facebook page or email below for more details.
Early to Mid January: Prospective members meet with NABC, steering committee established.
Late January: Steering committee begins work.
How will the Co-Op work?

We’re preparing an informational pamphlet now, to post to our FB page, and other community channels. In brief, the Co-Op is meant to meet the demand of large accounts, like Amazon’s employee kitchens, Local CSA’s, PCC and other grocers, hospitals and other institutions, etc, which individually we cannot efficiently supply, individually. Any farmer who participates will be an owner. The Co-Op will collect (from your property, not your nesting boxes 🙂 ) eggs, which the Co-Op will clean, box, and ship. The Co-Op will also work to reduce feed costs, provide a WSDA poultry slaughter facility, and wholesale pricing on supplies, chicks and equipment.

The Cooperative’s objectives are:

  • To increase local supply of pasture-raised eggs so local wholesale buyers (e.g. PCC and Puget Sound Food Hub), including public and private institutions (e.g. Amazon’s employee kitchens), large grocers, CSA’s (e.g. Oxbow and Snoqualmie Valley Co-Op) and corporate caterers, can choose to fulfill orders with product raised in King County and surrounding areas. (Note: represents commitments to purchase from Co-Op).
  • To help more small farms increase profitability through pasture-raised poultry and egg sales while decreasing the burden of labor, high cost feeds, and capital expenses.
  • To increase the efficiency of the production of pasture-raised eggs to allow for more production capabilities that doesn’t compromise farmer profitability or food equity.

How do I find out more?

We will use our Nelli Farms Facebook page, until we create a name. You can also reach us at .


Lara, Nelli Farms

Petrina, Skylight Farms

Charles, Nelli Farms

The Tall Chief/King County RFP decision

A message to our membership from the SVT board:

A petition has been circulated on our list serve asking the King County Council to rescind the offer to sell the Tall Chief property to the Keller family, multi- generation dairy farmers in the valley.

As a partner on the competing application referred to in the petition description, SnoValley Tilth’s board has decided that we cannot lead an effort for the County to rescind their decision.

We agree that the County’s RFP process was seriously flawed and that their decision does not achieve the goals set forth by their RFP.  We are communicating this to the County Council directly.

However, our organization also strives to bring farmers together and to build bridges between all hard working family farmers no matter their historical or present day farming practices.  We strive to work in partnership with farmers to promote, and encourage transition to, environmentally friendly practices, the foundation of which is healthy soil – good Tilth.  This also includes advocating alternatives to GMO crops, synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.

Ultimately we believe all farmers love their land, and possess vast knowledge and important skill sets.  The independent farmers who raise the food of our nation all deserve our respect.  That being said, the mission of SnoValley Tilth is to support organic and sustainable food and fiber production….   This “support” includes being a resource, and hopefully an inspiration, for farmers who do not currently employ these practices.

We work to be an inclusive and unifying force striving to promote a healthy and environmentally friendly food system in the Snoqualmie Valley Watershed.

We are not trying to advocate or dissuade you from signing this petition.  This is simply an explanation to our members of our position on this subject.


The SVT board

additional links:

Save Tall Chief Petition

Response from Snoqualmie Valley Organic Farmers

King County Information Page on Tall Chief

King County Kitchen Cabinet

The King County Executive’s “Kitchen Cabinet” has now concluded and published its final report. At this time implementation of the recommendations in the report are well under way. Additional info is available here:

There are three specific areas of focus in development of a plan to achieve the goal of 250 new farmers on 4000 acres of new farmland in the next ten years:

1. First is the development of a “one-stop farm shop” which will locate and coordinate all available State, Federal, and County agencies along with academic, economic and ag-based NGOs that provide services to farmers. This information will be available on a single, County-maintained web-site. Additionally, there will be a County-funded office that will be staffed daily to provide information on any and every aspect of farming for both new and experienced farmers.

2. Second is the availability of County assistance in marketing. The County has filled a full-time position with a person to help develop new markets for agricultural products in King County. Of special interest to SVT farmers is that this person—Lilly Simmering—has already been at work on behalf of the Snoqualmie Valley Farmer’s Co-op (the only farmer’s Co-op in KC). If you are interested in being a part of the Co-op, please contact one of the Co-op’s two directors, Matt Tregoning ( or Erick Haakenson (

3. The third is still being worked on: this is a series of policy changes that will incentivize new farmers to farm in KC, and “encourage” people who own land in APDs to either farm their land or find someone who will.

I would value input any of you may have on these issues and especially on #3 (ways to incentivize new farmers and to get more land in the APD available for farming).

Erick Haakenson
Jubilee Farm

UW Planning Team working with SnoValley Tilth on Agricultural Economic Development

tractorbloomGraduate students at the University of Washington have been working with Sno-Valley Tilth over the course of the past two months to learn more about the Snoqualmie Valley community, both past and present. These students will be continuing to work with Sno-Valley Tilth through Spring and early Summer to assist the organization with preparing plans for economic support for the local community without sacrificing the character, environment, and historical connections that have come to define the Valley.
On Tuesday, March 17, these students held a public meeting to hear feedback for what matters most to you in any discussion on economic development in the Valley. A great group of local farmers and farm supporters turned out to share ideas, big and small.
The team is now compiling all of these ideas and will present their top recommendations to SnoValley Tilth board members. The team will have approximately three months to dig into 3-4 projects and help move us towards our shared visions of a thriving agricultural economy in the Snoqualmie Valley.
If you have any questions about the meeting, UW student involvement, or the program, please don’t hesitate to contact the team at

Booth at Bastyr Herb and Food Faire

Saturday May 31st from 10am-5pm at Bastyr’s Kenmore campus, we will attend the fair. This years theme is ‘Food and Medicine on the Wild Side’. Several speakers and workshops to take advantage of. Check it out!