Spring Newsletter

Spring Newsletter

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This past May, our team at the Agriculture & Natural Resource Center of Excellence, joined the national movement to raise awareness about mental health. Agricultural workers face a multitude of unique challenges and barriers that make them vulnerable to a higher rate of death by suicide. These barriers and challenges range from shifting market volatility to extreme weather events coupled with rising operational costs –as well as many other factors.

Now, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to deepen our current rural agricultural mental health crisis. Our farming and ranching communities are at the heart of Washington’s culture and identity, now more than ever, we need to find ways to stay connected with our community –no one needs to feel alone or without the information, support and help they need. As the necessity for addressing mental health needs has become more acute, ANR strives to identify resources that offer mental health services, workshops and training, and helplines. If you or someone you know is experiencing excessive stress or thoughts of suicide, please reach out to a confidential crisis support line.


The COVID-19 pandemic has peeled back and exposed the gap between food production and distribution systems nationwide. Amidst this unprecedented crisis, new attention has narrowed in on food security and the benefits of an integrated shorter, localized system like CSAs that operate in both urban and rural communities alike.

This increased awareness about the vulnerabilities of our current food supply chain result in considerations about our evolving food supply chain. The necessity for balancing the intricacy of long and short food supply chains will be paramount for building a more resilient regional and domestic food supply chain. Director of the Global Trade & Supply Chain Management Center of Excellence, Sam Kaplan, noted “supply chains are strained, especially medical supply chains, but they are evolving to meet the challenge” adding “the once ignored supply chain is now on everyone’s mind”.

In light of our evolving supply chain, discussions on how to achieve sustainability and food security in a COVID-19 era should be met with optimism. Washington State is uniquely positioned to support urban agriculture and a subsequently more localized food system through current programs offered in the Community and Technical College System.

Educational pathways that lend toward integrating a shorter, localized food supply chain wherein “food deserts” are replaced by urban agricultural plots, are programs like Highline College’s Sustainable Agriculture & Food Security Certificate that enables and empowers the next generation of urban farmers. Accelerating the urban agriculture movement in metropolitan areas like Seattle has the potential to increase food security and access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food.

The Sustainable Agriculture & Food Security program focuses on land preparation, crop production and post-harvest business opportunities for small-scale urban plots with a lens towards ecological and social justice elements  impacted by the evolving landscape of agriculture and food production.

Highline College is at the forefront of sustainable agriculture & food security movement by offering a flexible, low-cost option for advancing your career –whether you are a new or seasoned farmer, Highline College has the opportunities to leverage the power of urban agriculture and help close the gap between food production and distribution. YOU can be part of the solution to our evolving agricultural landscape. To learn more about the program, visit here: Sustainable Agriculture & Food Security Program Overview

Since our last newsletter, your team here at the Ag & Natural Resource Center of Excellence has had to pivot our operations to accommodate new COVID19 restrictions, as we’re sure many of you have had to do as well. While this significantly changes our work environment, we are happy that we’ve been able to take advantage of this time by working on some projects that may have taken a back burner previously.

One of these projects is making updates and additions to our website. Ceana Pacheco (ANR Coordinator) has done some amazing work on our Job Board, as well as adding as a page dedicated to scholarships.

We were, and are, pleased to see agriculture and the workers we rely on designated as “essential” in the wake of COVID19. Thanks to our advisory board, we were able to connect with a few of these essential workers that we value so strongly, and hear about their successes and challenges during this time. We hope to be able to translate those conversations into support at the community and technical college level in the future.

Thank you to all our agriculture and natural resource professionals that are keeping us fed, housed, clothed, and to all the frontline responders keeping people safe.

Stay safe,

Lindsey Williams

[email protected]