When you think of locally produced food, you often think of vegetables but in Washington State, Native “farmers of the sea” are developing a thriving aquaculture industry. Like traditional farmers, these “sea” farmers sew and reap, but in this case the harvest is shellfish: oysters and clams.
This week USDA announced that a $150,000 grant will be awarded to the Makah Tribal Council in Neah Bay, Wash., to start up a geoduck clam aquaculture small business training program through the Makah Fisheries Management Department.
"Aquaculture has long been vital for subsistence for the Tribe in this remote region," said Mario Villanueva, USDA Rural Development Washington State Director. "This training program will educate new entrepreneurs on all aspects of this industry and result in advancing economic development for tribal members.”
"USDA supports all types of local and regional food system development, and this industry, based on a renewable resource, will flourish and create new jobs and economic opportunity for members of the Tribe,” Villanueva said, adding that the project is expected to create 21 jobs on the Makah Indian Reservation.
The grant award supports aquaculture and the production and regional consumption of locally grown foods as a way to create jobs and strengthen rural communities.
The funding is administered through USDA Rural Development's Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program, which provides grants for rural projects that finance the development of small and emerging rural businesses.
Geoducks, a Washington State delicacy, with a face only a mollusk could love.