Focus on Forterra

Focus on Forterra

In every issue we would like to inspire each other by sharing information on an organization or individual taking bold steps toward making our region a better place to live through attainable and affordable housing. In this issue, we will focus on the conservation group Forterra.

In 1989, a group of volunteers began the Seattle King County Land Trust, a land conservancy that attempted to bridge the gap between public and private entities. A year later, it became clear that it was not enough to have a patchwork of conserved wildlands, and they began to purchase working lands, including farms and forests to hold them in trust.   

By 2003, the group had conserved 100,000 acres of land, but knew they needed to expand their vision if they were going to fulfill their mission of creating land-based solutions to support a healthy environment and resilient communities throughout Washington State.
In 2005, they created the Cascade and Olympic Agendas which focused on the impact our built world has on the health of the landscape. They identified two key goals for these agendas: 1) Protect 1.3 million acres of working forest, farms, shorelines, parks and natural areas; 2) Make cities and towns great places to live, work and raise families.
In 2011, the group changed their name to Forterra (“for the Earth”). They continue their land conservation and stewardship, but land conservation no longer represents the breadth of their work; they have also incorporated urban and rural communities into their conservation efforts.
The Strong Communities Fund is a Forterra-led, $500 million initiative that links conservation and development through a domestically sourced, vertically integrated supply chain.
Wadajir Residences & Souq | Tukwila
Wadajir is a joint venture of Abu Bakr Islamic Center, the largest Islamic community center in the region, and SCF to establish affordable housing and an International Market (Souq) in Tukwila. Wadajir will offer 100 affordable housing units using a cooperative homeownership model, and 45 micro-retail spaces primarily for Somali immigrant families and businesses currently being displaced by gentrification.
Rainier Beach Food Innovation Center | Seattle
In October 2020, with assistance from Forterra and the Strong Communities Fund, the Rainier Beach Action Coalition (RBAC), a local community-based organization, acquired ownership of a property with a central location in the Rainier Beach neighborhood. The $3 million purchase is the result of a decade-long effort and will help RBAC to implement a primary aspect of their neighborhood plan, including a Food Innovation Center, affordable housing, and a community center. The Food Innovation Center will eventually be the base of operations for the neighborhood’s food justice system, with the goal of creating jobs and pathways to economic mobility in the Rainier Beach neighborhood.
South Walker Street | Central District, Seattle
In 2018, a partnership between SCF and Africatown Community Land Trust (ACLT) enabled ACLT to purchase an 8,000-square-foot property on South Walker Street in Seattle’s Central District. The ACLT and Forterra are now working together to develop attainable townhomes for sale on the site to help re-anchor Central Seattle’s Black community against displacement.
The Hilltop | Tacoma
The Hilltop neighborhood has been a home to the Black/African American community in Tacoma for generations. Nestled close to downtown, the once underinvested neighborhood is now experiencing rapid redevelopment — but often in isolation from the community itself.
With Fab-5, a Hilltop-based local non-profit and the Tacoma Housing Authority, Forterra is partnering in a grassroots development initiative that will empower the community to shape the future of Hilltop. Forterra has purchased a vacated Rite Aid property on Martin Luther King Jr. Way at South 11th St and is working with residents and business owners to drive the development of the building — what it will look like, how it will function, and who it will serve.

There are many ways to get involved with Forterra’s mission. You can donate funds, volunteer for their monthly events, including cleaning up parks and restoring forests, and even calculate your carbon footprint and give money toward their tree planting program, Evergreen Carbon Capture. For more info go to

2000 1125 Sarah Rudinoff
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