By Micah Anderson, Seattle Tilth Farm Works Education Manager
Want to help meet increasing demand for healthy local food? Apply to join the Seattle Tilth Farm Works (STFW) team! Gain the skills you’ll need to participate as a competitive small farm producer in today’s market by taking part in our farm business training program based in Auburn, WA.
We’re currently accepting applications for the 2014 growing season. Read on to find out more about the program, help spread the word and apply by January 7.
What is Seattle Tilth Farm Works?
Seattle Tilth Farm Works is a comprehensive “farm incubator” program that trains new farmers. We provide aspiring farmers with farm business training as well as access to land and infrastructure at subsidized rates. We also offer marketing and distribution support via Seattle Tilth Produce. We’ll cover everything you need to know when it comes to crop planning, propagation, production and harvesting. You’ll learn how to make your business sustainable and profitable with a primer on farm business planning, marketing and distribution. We’ll also cover special topics like beekeeping and pastured poultry.
Farm Business Training Program
The training lasts about 5 months, from February through June. Classes are held on Thursday evenings, 6-8:30 p.m. and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Participants will benefit from a balanced mix of classroom presentations, guest speakers, hands-on learning and field trips over the course of the program.
Participants who graduate from the training program are eligible to manage their own farm plot at the STFW farm site with continued technical support provided by STFW staff. This allows farmers an opportunity to hone their farming skills and to build networks and capital, while forgoing the risks and costs associated with starting a new farm from scratch. Over time program participants earn access to larger plots of land and subsidies decrease, encouraging eventual farm business independence.
Marketing and Distribution Support
STFW also provides participating farmers with marketing and distribution support. Farmers gain experience growing produce for a community supported agriculture (CSA) program and selling their produce at local farmers markets. Additionally, participants have access to established market channels managed by Seattle Tilth Produce. Farmers may also choose to pursue their own marketing channels and networks with support from STFW staff.
About the Farm
The STFW farm is located 4 miles east of the Green River, in Auburn, Washington. In 2013, fifteen participants grew more than 40 different crop varieties on 4.5 acres of land. For 2014, nearly 9 acres will be available for production. We plan to incorporate more perennial crops, increase pastured poultry and livestock production and to pursue organic certification.
Once participating farmers establish stable farm enterprises at STFW, we’ll help farmers transition to their own land and continue growing their operations. A few program graduates have already made that leap and are managing their own farms. Many other graduates continue to increase their knowledge, skills and acreage at the STFW farm.
Interested in joining the STFW farm community? Download the application.
The application deadline is January 7 for the 2014 cohort. Contact Micah Anderson at (206) 681-4876, or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.