Gretchen Garth has been a long-time advocate for many important issues around food, sustainable farming, and sustainable building practices. She is the driving force behind visioning and establishing 21 Acres, a small-scale and community based bio-diverse farm in Woodinville, WA. The idea for 21 Acres originally came out of a search for a new site for a farmers’ market. Once Gretchen started the search she realized that there was an opportunity to create more than just a farmer’s market. Envisioning a site with enough land for cultivation, a building that contained a commercial kitchen and storage area for agricultural products, and a year round farmers’ market, 21 Acres began to take shape.
Today, at the center of 21 Acres’ productive agricultural land is an innovative building designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, targeting a Platinum rating. The building stands as a demonstration project for the community and contains classrooms, a commercial kitchen and a year-round on-site farmer’s market.
21 Acres incorporates a whole systems solution to regional issues around wholesome food availability, small-scale food economies and sustainability. Classes in organic gardening, food preparation, green building practices and sustainable living are available at 21 Acres. The year-round farmer’s market provides shoppers affordable fresh produce and products and the opportunity to support local farmers. The building provides the functionality for local farmers to cultivate, prepare, store and merchandise their products for sale. 21 Acres is a unique example of an organization that integrates a systems perspective to regional sustainability.