Seattle Tilth Receives USDA Funding for Farm Business Training Program for Underserved Communities!
Seattle Tilth has been awarded $483,160 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s(USDA) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, a competitive grants program administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The funding will support Seattle Tilth Farm Works which provides training for immigrants, refugees and low-income families in farming skills and business development in South King County.
“We’re thrilled to have our work recognized nationally as an important contribution towards repairing our regional food system.” Executive Director Andrea Dwyer explained. “An investment of this magnitude will provide long-term benefits by creating viable small businesses and improving overall public health.”
Seattle Tilth Farm Works provides local refugees, immigrants, and low-income Americans the opportunity to participate in developing a sustainable food system by growing food organically and selling it to local corner stores, farmers markets and other small market buyers in their geographic or ethnic communities.
Farmers gain hands-on experience growing food on and develop small farm businesses. Access to land, equipment, and utilities is subsidized for program participants, with subsidies decreasing over time as farmers grow their businesses. Farmers also go on educational field trips to tour other farm operations, get support to sell food at local markets and events and take classes on creating a business plan as well as other farming and business topics. Somali Bantu, Ethiopian, Burundian and other low-income
families have participated in the program. The program is currently accepting applications for new participants.
The USDA has awarded 36 grants totaling $18 million to organizations that will provide training and assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers to help them run successful and sustainable farms. At least 25 percent of the program’s funding supports the needs of limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as farm workers who want to get a start in farming and ranching. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program was established through the 2008 Farm Bill.
Partnering organization Burst for Prosperity piloted the program in 2009 and passed the reins to Seattle Tilth in 2010.
Essential support also comes from Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) through the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, managed locally by King County Public Health. The land belongs to Seattle Parks and Recreation and they are making it
available as part of their Parks Urban Food Systems program.
For more information about the BFRDP program, visit: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/bfrdp/bfrdp.html. Find out more about Seattle Tilth Farm Works: http://seattletilth.org/about/farmincubatorprogram.