Become a Farmer with Seattle Tilth Farm Works

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.

Veggie Hands

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.

TendingSeedlings_cropped

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.

PackingVeggies

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.

Ramadhan

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.

Questions?

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 micahanderson@seattletilth.org for more information.

4 responses to “Become a Farmer with Seattle Tilth Farm Works

  1. Thanks for your inquiry, Victoria. Seattle Tilth Farm Works is a farm training program that offers resources on a sliding scale basis. The educational component is delivered from February through June. Classroom and experiential learning sessions are held twice a week – Thursday from 6-8:30pm and Saturday from 9am-3pm. During this time, participants will be selecting/preparing their plot for the growing season. Most participants start with ¼ acre. All plots have access to irrigation, receive compost (about 4 yards per ¼ acre), and are mowed/tilled with the tractor for initial preparation. Participants also have access to space in the hoophouse for starting seeds/transplants, the wash/pack area for harvest, and the walk-in cooler for storage. Access to the Seattle Tilth Produce markets and ongoing technical assistance from STFW staff are also part of the program. Depending on income and number of dependents, the complete cost for the growing season ranges from $90-$450 for ¼ acre.

    Seattle Tilth does carry general liability, but participants are responsible for securing their own insurance if they will be selling to outlets that require such.

    If this sounds like something you’d like to pursue, please be in touch about scheduling a time to visit the farm. We’d be happy to talk more with you about your ideas.

    Feel free to contact us directly for more info:

    Matthew McDermott – (253) 737-5833 or matthewmcdermott@seattletilth.org
    Micah Anderson – (206) 681-4876 or micahanderson@seattletilth.org

    • Hi Sarah — while it’s true that the 2014 season is well underway and we’re unable to accept new folks into this year’s program, please consider visiting us at the farm in Auburn this summer to chat with our program staff and ask questions. Applications for 2015 will be posted on our website towards the end of the year. The best way to learn when they’re available to is to subscribe to our enews: http://seattletilth.org/receive-newsletter. Please contact our farm manager, Matthew McDermott, if you’d like to schedule a visit — matthewmcdermott@seattletilth.org.

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