by Jean Rogers, Farm Fund Administrator
More than 52 local farms and 18 food and farming organizations have benefited from Farm Fund grants and loans.
Increasing the stable supply of healthy local food for Whatcom County residents is a primary mission of the Community Food Co-op Farm Fund. In 2015, the Co-op Farm Fund, with the support of the Sustainable Whatcom Fund of the Whatcom Community Foundation, created the Next Step Project to offer assistance to farmers making significant investments to increase the amount of local food available to local markets. Next Step grants help growing farms attain a scale that provides economic resiliency without overextending themselves in the process.
The first round of grants was extremely successful and we are excited to announce the next group of recipients. You will recognize some steady Co-op suppliers, along with some wonderful newer farms that we hope will become familiar to you as their products become more available in local markets. Here is a look at our most recent Next Step farms and the projects they hope to accomplish.
Over the course of the growing season, we will follow the progress of the Next Step farms and share their stories. Thanks to all our member-owners and shoppers who have made the Next Step grants possible. When you read these success stories, remember that you were part of making them happen. It takes a community that supports and appreciates the hard work of its farmers to create and sustain a healthy food system. We look forward to enjoying the delicious products from these local farms for years to come.
Learn more about the Farm Fund on our website. Farm Fund donations are accepted at all Co-op registers or by mail.
Misty Meadows Farm
A certified organic pasture-raised poultry farm, rated among the highest in the nation for animal husbandry practices, Misty Meadows is adding another flock of chickens to keep up with the demand for their eggs.
Terra Verde Farm
A family owned and operated organic farm, Terra Verde is purchasing 7 acres of land in addition to 15 acres they currently lease. To manage their expansion the farm is purchasing a “cultimulcher” to eliminate hours of field prep, reduce tillage, and improve soil structure; and a mower to keep fields clean post-harvest to reduce problematic bug pressure.
Osprey Hill Farm
A 15-acre farm in east Whatcom County, Osprey Hill is expanding productivity with a 150 percent increase in pastured poultry production. The farm made building improvements and purchased equipment for the brooding stage of the chicks.
Spring Time Farm
A certified organic vegetable and flower farm entering its fourth year of production, Spring Time recently purchased a 37-acre farm. They will be purchasing a tractor and other equipment to prepare for expanded production, and will use the Next Step grant to make payments on the substantial investments related to the farm expansion.
With 13 years of farm experience, accomplished farmers Katie Pencke and Matthew McDermott are investing in infrastructure to provide local, pasture-raised pork. A double win for this Next Step grant is that Alluvial will be purchasing certified organic feed from local business Scratch & Peck Feed.
Lopez Brothers Farm
Located in Skagit County, the farm is investing in berry plants to expand the acreage in production over the next three years. Feliciano Lopez’s goal is to increase the yield of locally sourced, sustainably grown berries from farmworker-owned farms for the wholesale market. As part of his commitment to building a healthy local environment for farmworker families, Feliciano participates with Community to Community Development and farmworker union, Familias Unidas por la Justicia.
The only grower of organic table grapes and organic honey crisp apples in Western Washington, Sauk Farm is expanding production of fresh apples and value-added products such as juice and dehydrated fruit. To deliver products that are affordable for wholesale markets, the farm is using a Next Step grant to purchase an apple washer, automated fruit slicer, and heat pump dehydrator.
Well Fed Farm
The farm produces certified organic vegetables and pasture-raised livestock on 15 acres in Bow. Having grown steadily over the past eight years, Well Fed Farms is purchasing equipment to expand and increase their vegetable production and lower production costs. The farm recently secured a three-year lease as a stepping stone to their ultimate goal of purchasing land.