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CSF awards spring grants for “culture”

Toward a happier, healthier community

Each year, the Community Sustaining Fund (CSF) awards funds to local groups based on applications in the Spring and Fall. The Fund is supported primarily by people contributing via the “Round Up at the Register’’ option at the Olympia Food Co-op; and in recent years by the Sue Lundy Fund (created with the help of the Kiwanis Club).

This spring’s awards emphasized “culture”—agri-culture, aqua-culture and musical culture. Meet the 2021 Spring awardees.

The Estuarium—fostering stewards

Every summer, the Olympia Estuarium hosts a program—Meet the Beach— designed to bring people, particularly youth, to deeper awareness and appreciation of our sea life and of the estuary where the Deschutes River enters Budd Inlet on the southernmost Salish Sea. This is the area once tended by the Lushootseed-speaking Steh’chass band, ancestors of the Squaxin Island Tribe. The goal of the Estuarium program is to foster stewards who will protect and care for our part of the Salish Sea ecosystem. The program depends on volunteers and a core group of Beach Naturalists. The Beach Naturalists are contract educators who receive a minimum wage for their time, serving much like paid interns. Some may later become part of the Estuarium staff. The Estuarium was granted $1,000 to help cover essential office expenses as well as wages for one month.

Helsing Junction Farm—farm succession

Helsing Junction Farm was founded in 1992 by Annie Salafsky and Susan Ujcic as one of the country’s first CSA operations. Both are graduates of The Evergreen State College and have deep roots in agriculture. Helsing Junction Farm has for over 30 years provided our community—especially via the Olympia Food Co-op— with a wide array of nutritious organic produce. The Farm has offered school tours to educate youth about the benefits of eating organic, partnered with The Gleaners Coalition to gather produce at the end of each season, and supported the Thurston County Food Bank with a CSA program.

The founders of Helsing are women who have given much to our community over these years. They are now ready to pass their leadership on to younger folk. As women farmers, they are looking to pass on their well-established farm to other women farmers, which is consistent with the goals and criteria set out for awarding grants from the Sue Lundy Fund. Helsing Junction was awarded $1,000 to help with legal fees that are required to smooth the transition.

A note on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): Helsing Junction Farm, like many other small farms in our area, operates a CSA that provides access to local organic produce at very fair prices. You end up eating a lot more vegetables fresh from the ground they grew on. Consider joining a CSA program and become part of the growing movement to keep water and soil safe as well as maintain open spaces and to keep farmland in the hands of farmers themselves. Millions of acres of farmland are owned and rented out by nonfarmers (including Bill and Melinda Gates!!), depriving the actual farmers of growing equity as they grow crops. CSAs put the culture back in agriculture—and farms in the hands of farmers.

New Traditions—A Baby Grand Piano for Concerts

New Traditions, formerly Traditions, has literally been a tradition in Olympia for many years. Since its founding in 1996, the café and retail space has evolved into a community center for concerts, workshops and public forums. It’s a gathering place for a community of interesting and involved people, and a unique music venue. Despite a year of challenges due to the pandemic, the retail space selling fair trade wares from all over the world has remained open. The situation for the restaurant has been more complicated.

As a site for serving food as well as hosting concerts, the restaurant saw ups and downs with the changing requirements associated with safety during COVID 19. But as we emerge from lockdown and other restrictions, the possibility exists for expanding the restaurant space to accommodate more people, new menu offerings, and more concerts. As one element to enhance the music opportunities, owners Jody and Stacey are looking for a used baby grand piano. The CSF was pleased to award them $1,000 toward its purchase. (If you happen to have one sitting around needing a new home, please call Jody or Stacey at 360.705.2819.)

Metamimicry—fungi experiments

Metamimicry Eco Consulting is a recently-formed business aimed at exploring and implementing low-tech biological solutions to address some of our most pressing environmental pollutants. The project leads have been working in the field studying fungi for a number of years. They are concerned about the effects of water runoff from our roads into our waterways and eventually into the Puget Sound (more precisely, the Salish Sea), and how that affects salmon.

Metamimicry requested support for experiments with fungi and the enzymes they produce that can help mitigate the effects of the runoff, particularly from tire pollution. Working with other local groups also exploring the great potential of using fungi for remediation, creating bio-retention bags will be one experiment. CSF awarded the full amount of their request: $1,000 toward fees and equipment needed for experiments with several native species of fungi. For more information and to support this work:

The Community Sustaining Fund aims to use its resources to create a more democratic, equitable, nonviolent and ecologically sound society. CSF tends to award funds for start-up costs of projects that might otherwise go unfunded, but with the expectation that these projects will become self-sustaining. Grant funds are derived from contributing individuals and businesses. The Community Sustaining Fund is always looking to expand and diversify our volunteer base.

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