New app places Pierce County’s farms within reach

County Executive Pat McCarthy said the product launch is perfect timing for consumers seeking food

Staff writerApril 30, 2014 

The new Puget Sound Fresh app enables users to discover what farms are nearby in real time. The app will include farms from Pierce County, as well as farmers’ markets and other farm-related events and products.

PIERCE COUNTY/COURTESY PHOTO

People can now find the hundreds of farms, farmers markets and farm events across Washington with the assistance of the Puget Sound Fresh mobile app.

The app, produced by the mobile app team at Pierce County with help from students at University of Washington Tacoma, puts Cascade Harvest Coalition’s Puget Sound Fresh website and print edition Farm Guide on a mobile platform. The app went live this month and is available in Apple and Android app stores.

“Pierce County has really stepped up to the plate beautifully,” said Sheryl Wiser, the Puget Sound Fresh program manager at Cascade Harvest Coalition. “If you pick blueberries in Pierce County, or want to find a pumpkin patch, or beekeeping supplies or a barn rental, this app is sourcing all of that information.”

Cascade Harvest Coalition is a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting consumers to farmers statewide.

The coalition began management of the Puget Sound Fresh program, once under King County, in 2001, and took full ownership of the website in 2013. The organization revamped the website to include farm producers across the state, and farmers markets, products and recipes.

“Pierce County came to us last year and said, ‘We love what you’re doing,’ ” Wiser said. “What’s important about the partnership is that the content on the mobile app is curated.”

Wiser said the website had more than 500,000 site visits last year.

“We went from listing 100 farm products to now over 240,” Wiser said. “We want to grow the next generation of eaters. We want everyone to have the best access to their foods and to their farms.”

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy has begun a Pierce County Agriculture Program to help farmers succeed.

“In Pierce County, we have been trying to elevate the profile of farmers to help them reach new markets,” McCarthy said. “(We want) to tell our local farmers that we rely on them for sustenance and respect the work that they do and we support them.”

As part of her program, McCarthy has spearheaded farm tours.

“We’re looking at what are the needs of our local farmers and how they can be an economic driver,” McCarthy said. “One of the things they really want is they need to get their products to market and they want people to know that they’re there.”

McCarthy said the mobile app is a boon for the farmer and the consumer.

“The timing is great,” McCarthy said. “I love it and I’m a foodie. People have this heightened interest about food. It’s all about good health and good food. The app empowers people to enjoy the bounty of farms that we have in Pierce County and beyond.”

To learn more

The Puget Sound Fresh mobile app is available in Apple and Android app stores. For a web version of Puget Sound Fresh, go to pugetsoundfresh.org.

Andrew Fickes: 253-552-7001 andrew.fickes @puyallupherald.com Twitter: @herald_andrew

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