By Ken Stern 

Genuine Skagit Valley gets grant to make its mark


January 15, 2020

Expect to see more of the orange and green Genuine Skagit Valley logo on produce and food products next year and in the coming years. The one year old certification mark program got a big boost in December, a $348,000 three year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For Skagit Valley farmers to gain more attention for their products as an organized entity, more farmers and food processors have to join the membership marketing program. The grant supports marketing the program to the agricultural community.

“A lot of it helps provide funding for staffing and contract work. We now have a budget to build out a website, different design needs, materials for promotion, trade shows and paid media,” explained Blake Vanfield, marketing coordinator.

Rolled out in early 2019, 38 members signed up the first year.

Vanfield works out of the Northwest Agricultural Business Center, a nonprofit economic development and training group in Mount Vernon. The Center applied for the funding. The grant will provide marketing technical assistance, bringing in outside experts to provide digital media consulting to members, an inducement to get new businesses to join and join forces to get the word out on the quality and worth of Skagit Valley agriculture.

“There is a lot to do with outreach to new and potential members as well as reach consumers and building our audience up and down the I-5 corridor, Puget Sound and Skagit Valley,” Vanfield said.

“We will continue one of the most important things, in-person outreach. It is just connecting with people, building relationships, visiting farms, visiting producers. One-on-one visits are the most important ways to build our memberships,” she emphasized.

The Center won one of two grants in Washington state. The $11 million was divided among 50 programs. Many of the grants were much smaller. “The $348,000 was a big chunk and we got it. With this grant, over three years, we have to show our efforts are increasing the sale of agricultural products here in the Skagit Valley,” Vanfield said.

The Genuine Skagit Valley program is designed to increase consumer awareness and consumption of Skagit Valley agricultural related products and services.

The La Conner Weekly News became a member last spring.


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