New Tractor for Salvation Army in Centralia Means More Fresh Produce for Community


A brand new tractor is bound to elicit the same excitement as a new car, boat or any other piece of useful, stylish gear. But for the Salvation Army in Centralia Thursday morning, the delivery of their new machine meant more than just the chance to farm in style. 

On their acre-and-a-half farm, the organization is on track to grow and distribute 20,000 pounds of produce this year. Already, nothing is wasted. What doesn’t get donated back into the community through the food bank is used for the nonprofit’s lunch program or is fed to the chickens.

Because the Salvation Army does not use chemical weed killers on the lot, tilling is required twice a year. With its new Kubota tractor, the organization will be able to grow even more produce through a late-season harvest. It will also save money previously used to rent a tractor each year and allow staff the freedom of tilling the farm whenever weather is pleasant, rather than just within the rental period. 

Salvation Army Centralia Captains Gin Pack and Steven Pack were among those beaming with joy as the new piece of equipment was delivered Thursday morning, purchased through a Washington state Department of Agriculture grant to increase food security. 

“They were looking for innovative programs, so I was like, ‘I got this,’” said Gin Pack. “We’re really grateful that they saw the vision and the value in the farm-fresh produce and being able to provide that for our community. We’re just really humbled.”

After such a long time seeking funds for the purchase, Gin Pack described its delivery as “overwhelming.”

Through the late season harvest, the organization will have the chance to add radishes, swiss chard and leafy greens to its offerings, which have included lettuce, corn, cauliflower, cabbage, sunflower seeds and more throughout the summer. 

This season hasn’t been an easy one after all 14 of the nonprofit’s chickens were stolen in July. However, through donations from various businesses and individuals including the Coal Creek Poultry Auction, a flock of 19 was pieced back together. The chickens and farm now have added security measures, including a new barn which has increased production by storing useful equipment. 

“The community really rallied behind this project,” Gin Pack said, adding that the Salvation Army has three staff members who work on the lot as well as regular service days where churches and others come in to help. “(It takes) a lot of involvement to make it happen, so we’re really excited.”