From Photos to Community Empowerment — Follow These Farmers' Journeys

By Heather Cole, Puget Sound Community Relations Manager

Thank you to the seven farms that participated in this project: Caruso Farm, Hazel Blue Acres Farm, Orange Star Farm, Rainy Sunday Ranch, Raising Cane Ranch, Soaring Swallow Farm and Justamare Farm. Thank you Creative Narrations for facilitating the Photovoice workshops and the Snohomish Conservation District for partnering with us!

View their Photovoice photos!


Last March, we pulled together seven farmers as part of a project called Photovoice to support agriculture resilience planning in Snohomish County. I remember that day distinctly — we all met for our first workshop on a drizzly Saturday morning in March, just outside of Everett. At this first workshop, we introduced the idea of Photovoice. The room was silent for the most part; the farmers didn't know each other and seemed a little skeptical of what they signed up for.

Farmers from the Photovoice project spoke at the Snohomish County Council to champion the needs of agriculture. Photo © Heather Cole.

Flash forward to Dec. 18 at the Snohomish County Council Chambers. Bill, Anna, Karen and Nick all took turns speaking, promoting their Photovoice messages and made an "ask" to the County Council on behalf of small farmers in Snohomish County:

  1. Set goals on achieving a thriving agricultural economy
  2. Create funding and policies that create resiliency from flooding due to upland development and climate change
  3. Create funding for farmland preservation

Nick Pate, left, of Raising Cane Ranch, presents the challenges posed by encroaching development and rising sea levels to farming in Snohomish County. Photo © Heather Cole.

And at the end of their presentation, Karen stood up proudly, and gave each County Council member a gift — their book, "Photovoice for Agriculture Resiliency," personally signed by all the farmers.

And guess what? These community and food advocates were complete strangers to each other less than a year ago. Now that's community empowerment in action.

Check Out Their Presentation

Banner photo by Chelsea and Cody Johansen as part of Photovoice