A farming bright spot: two recent land matches on Farm to Farmer
The pandemic that has swept our region, nation and globe has continued to put enormous pressure on local food growers. Limited access to markets and challenging working conditions combined with an increased interest in food security has pushed farmers to work harder than ever to produce food for our communities.
For farmers who didn’t come to the profession with generational wealth, community connections, or social privilege, navigating the farming system in this moment is even more challenging. That’s why we are thrilled to share a farming bright spot: two recent land matches made with the support of the Farm to Farmer program.
Kenyan immigrants and owners of Faithbeyond Farm expand their farm business to Skagit County
Elizabeth Mugeche and Francis Ndishu have been practicing organic agriculture for the last seven years. After training at Tilth Alliance‘s (formerly Seattle Tilth) Incubator Program for five years, the couple began leasing land on Shared Soil in Enumclaw, where they specialize in mixed vegetables.
For years, Elizabeth and Francis have had their eyes on the Skagit Valley and its sandy loam soils, as they grow many root and winter storage crops. Earlier this year, the couple connected with landowners Kimi and Jake Schell through Farm to Farmer with the help of Skagit-based program coordinator Anna Chotzen, and now call the land their home farm.
“We are so grateful to be connected with farm owners Jake and Kimi Schell,” said Elizabeth. “They have the perfect sized farm in the most ideal location.” Kimi, a chef and staff member at Viva Farms, told us that she is excited to see what Elizabeth and Francis produce on this new land, and hopes to source product from them for her farm dinners in the future.
Pierce Conservation District’s Farm Foundations program brings incubator plots to Pierce County
In addition to serving farmers looking for land to expand their operations and landowners aiming to make their land available for lease or purchase, Farm to Farmer also supports organizations looking for land or farmers to support their incubator or ag park programs.
With the help of Pierce-based Farm to Farmer coordinator Amy Moreno-Sills, Pierce Conservation District’s Farm Foundations program signed a lease at Washington State University’s Goss Farm in Puyallup earlier this year. The Conservation District will spend the 2020 growing season planting cover crops and improving irrigation systems on this new property, and once the soil is ready, small plots will be available for Farm Foundations graduates and others to use to incubate their farm businesses.
Farm Foundations is designed to give participants a full season of free farm internship experience without a full-time commitment, combining classroom learning with hands on skills-building.
“We’ve been so happy to work with Amy from the Farm to Farmer program,” said Madeleine Spencer of Pierce Conservation District. “With her support, we were able to secure a lease for four acres with the goal of developing a farm incubator program. Amy has been a helpful resource for all of our technical questions and I know I can reach out to her for ongoing support.”