Great news — support for new farmers and organic agriculture is on the rise. The last US farm bill increased US Department of Agriculture funding for new and organic farmers, including funding for Seattle Tilth Farm Works through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. Locally, new farmers are on the priority list through King County’s Local Food Initiative and Seattle Tilth is thrilled to be a very active partner on that effort.
Seattle Tilth is dedicated to supporting new organic farmers in a major way. This year Seattle Tilth Farm Works has 21 new farmers-in-training, folks committed to developing new farm businesses in King County. Most are young, many are women, some are immigrants and they are all committed to growing food for our community.
New Farmers Begin Training
Our organic farm education program started in early January. We’re excited to have a very capable group of new farmers join Seattle Tilth Farm Works this year, eager to learn, teach and grow farming businesses, bringing a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences.
So far we’ve focused on business, mission and vision planning, marketing channels and farm stands. In early April, they chose plots of land to begin cultivating. They’ll graduate from the education program in June and then focus on practicing what they learned.
Returning Farmers Evolve Their Businesses
Several farmers from prior years are continuing with Seattle Tilth Farm Works. It takes time to develop the skills and savvy to run a successful small farm business and you can see how returning farmers are honing their businesses in interesting ways.
Maria Anderson from Nook and Cranny Farm Mushrooms is back with another year cultivating oyster mushrooms — and her sister Monica is joining us for the educational program this year! Chris Sechrist from Windy Acre Farm is returning with pastured and organically raised chickens and Thanksgiving turkeys. Karla Farias from Feliz Farm will continue her pastured, heritage pork business, improving her operation based on lessons learned from her first year at the site. Khae Saetern from KTK Farm is back with some foraged forest foods. Abukar Haji and Wayne Thorpe are improving their methods in order to increase their yields of beautiful and healthy vegetables for the community.
Ramadhan Mugasa of Fatuma Family Farm and Mohammed “Mato” Juma are two farmers that have been with us since the beginning in 2012. They will be back for another growing season providing a wide array of vegetables and herbs for our CSA and farmers market stands. From 2013 cohort, farming couple Elizabeth Ndishu and Francis Kamau are adjusting tomato varieties towards more heirlooms and adding more land to their business, Faith Beyond Farm. Stephen and Tabitha are joining forces to co-manage their combined plots this year, a great example of collaborative and collective farming. Margaret Njubi will also be back on the land, growing tasty vegetables for home and the Seattle Tilth CSA.
Seattle Tilth Pursues New Opportunities
Seattle Tilth Farm Works farmers are pursuing organic certification through a new WSDA Group Grower process, providing organic certification to all the individual farm businesses when they sell through Seattle Tilth Produce.
Seattle Tilth Produce is sourcing produce and other products from small family farmers in the area to supplement our CSA as well as develop our “food hub” distribution to local restaurants, grocery stores and institutions and support our local food economy.
Seattle Tilth, WSU, Pike Place and King Conservation District are joining forces to support Hmong farmers in King County. Together we are providing land management, education, marketing and infrastructure support. Seattle Tilth staff are offering support in education, marketing and connecting flower growers to new opportunities.
Our CSA Gears Up
Eat well this season! You can support Seattle Tilth Farm Works and all of the new farmers mentioned by joining the Seattle Tilth CSA (community supported agriculture) and connect directly with your farmers while getting a box of high quality, local and organic vegetables, herbs and fruits for 20 weeks. You can also add on cheese, bread, chicken, turkey, pork and other goodies each week. SIGN UP NOW!
Hey CSA, What’s New?
Now in its third year, our CSA is evolving. Here’s what’s new in 2015:
- Extended pick-up hours, new locations: You can pick-up your CSA box in Phinney Ridge, SoDo, Capitol Hill, Ballard, West Seattle, South Lake Union, Tukwila, Rainier Valley, Kent, and Beacon Hill (and more are in the works)
- Home delivery by bicycle from Freewheel Cargo
- Pastured chicken share from Windy Acre Farm
- More fruit in your box from Okanogan Producers Marketing Association and our farm partners in the Puget Sound area
- Local, sustainable bread subscription from Grateful Bread
- Organic farmstead cheese subscription from Samish Bay Cheese
- Jam, mustard and hummus add-ons from local producers through the Farm Store
- “Swap boxes” to trade vegetables with other members
- More flexible payment plans and EBT payment options
Our farmers strive to bring you the highest quality and diversity of vegetables, herbs and fruit in the Maritime Northwest.
SIGN UP for the Seattle Tilth CSA — share sign-up is are available until early June. Stay tuned for more stories from the farm and thanks for supporting new, local, organic farmers!