Matsuda Farm continues to serve community
Mead Gill, Reporter
For many Islanders, spring is a time for new beginnings. It’s a time for deep cleaning houses, running around barefoot, and wishing you could stay home from work to take in the incredible weather.
For local farmers, spring is a time for fresh organic vegetables to supply Vashon’s demanding community. With COVID-19 hitting the country harder than ever, farms have had to adapt to new working conditions and an increasingly high demand for fresh crops.
Matsuda Farm, a non-profit project created by the Vashon Maury Island Land Trust, has continued to support the island community throughout the current stay-at-home order.
“The goals that the Land Trust created for Matsuda are to protect productive farmland, promote local agriculture, [and] provide public access and public benefits,” Caitlin Ames, the farm manager at Matsuda, said.
Ames came to the island in 2014 in pursuit of an internship at Pacific Crest Farm and since then has always been driven to serve the community through agriculture.
Though the pandemic has forced all non-essential businesses to close, Matsuda has been lucky enough to stay operating due to their contributions to Vashon Island School District, local grocery stores, senior centers, and the food bank. Being forced to change working conditions due to COVID-19 is difficult for many businesses to get used to, but Matsuda has continued production while simultaneously helping flatten the curve.
“I’ve shifted gears to make Matsuda as safe as possible for everyone who comes here,” Ames said. “We use hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, and masks wherever possible, follow distancing guidelines, and aim not to share tools.”
These precautions have made the farm a safe space for workers and volunteers alike. Matsuda is experiencing a large influx of volunteer workers during the stay-at-home order due to a combination of factors: people wanting to help the community, local high school students desperately trying to meet their service requirements for graduation, and the extended period of free time.
“With the added help, I’ve added increased production to my farm goals for the season,” Ames said. “We want to continue promoting local agriculture while also supplying food for people who are impacted by the economic repercussions of COVID-19, and more food seems to be the best way to begin.”
Many community members would agree that more food should be prioritized on the island. Shoppers are frustrated when their trip to Thriftway turns into a scavenger hunt around the deserted shelves and displays. Local islander Lisa Price had her own thoughts with the grocery situation.
“I need my fresh fruits and veggies,” Price said. “I completely understand the current situation [our community] is going through, which is why I’m so thankful that I have access to … so much. I’ve always tried shopping as local as I can, but lately I’m happy taking whatever salad mix I can get my hands on.”
As the Vashon community continues to progress through this unprecedented time, farms like Matsuda are supporting the needs of islanders most impacted by the pandemic, enabling the Vashon community to grow.