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Tacoma urban farmer grows food to give away for free

An older white man wearing sunglasses, a white hat, and overalls stands in front of six raised garden beds in the front yard of a house.
Mayowa Aina
David Thompson stands in front of six raised garden beds at Triple Earl Farms, a Food Independence Garden in a South Tacoma neighborhood maintained by Thompson's organization Food is Free Washington on April 26, 2024.

Food insecurity in Pierce County remains high. The Emergency Food Network told the Tacoma News Tribune it saw 2.7 million visits to its network of food banks in 2023, the most in its history.

David Thompson is an urban farmer in Tacoma who is trying to fight food insecurity by to connecting people to fresh fruits and vegetables.

"We get people to grow food and take the security into their own hands," said Thompson.

Thompson founded Food is Free Tacoma in 2015, which eventually turned into the nonprofit organization Food is Free Washington. Food is Free volunteers grow fresh produce to give away to people who need it in public areas like park strips, and in residents' front and backyards.

There are dozens of sites across the city called Food Independence Gardens, or FIGs. To date, the organization has given away tons of food to people and families throughout Pierce County.

Thompson encourages people to share their extra produce, too, with "share days," where people can bring their crops to a share and volunteers will help distribute the food.

Listen to the story above to learn more.

Produced with assistance from the Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

Mayowa Aina covers cost-of-living and affordability issues in Western Washington. She focuses on how people do (or don't) make ends meet, impacts on residents' earning potential and proposed solutions for supporting people living at the margins of our community. Get in touch with her by emailing