Extension service offers small farm classes

Here’s a release from the Snohomish County Extension Service on a 12-week course to help small farmers succeed in business.

Today’s successful farmer must adapt quickly to evolving market conditions while developing practices and crops that will sustain them, the land, and their families in the long term.

With the rising market demand for locally grown foods, there are plenty of choices and options; determining where best to focus can be the biggest challenge, especially for those looking to expand into new crops or those new to farming.

Now there is help determining the best plan for your present or future farm through the first in the award-winning Cultivating Success series of courses—Sustainable Small-Acreage Farming and Ranching.

The 12-week course will be held on Tuesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. starting Sept. 21 at Washington State University’s Extension Service at Cougar Auditorium, 600 128th St SE, Everett.

Graduates of the 2009 course have put their plans to work quickly.

For Chinook Farms near Snohomish, they evaluated different types of direct-to-consumer models like farmers markets and farm stands, decided on community supported agriculture as the model they wanted to pursue.

Consumer supported farms sell shares of the season’s harvest in early spring when farmers most need to invest in seed, equipment, and fertilizer.

Customers reap the benefits when harvest starts and come to the farm weekly to pick up a large box of just picked certified organic vegetables.

According to farmer Eric Fritch, “The time spent in the Cultivating Success course helped me to focus on my objectives and put my ideas into a practical business model. That model continues to evolve but I know we are on the right path. Let’s just say it has helped me thresh the grain from the chaff.”

The course gives participants a broad overview of production and marketing options for today’s small farm.

Whether you are just exploring the opportunities available or already have an existing operation, you’ll learn what it takes to create and sustain a viable small farm enterprise.

In this first of the Cultivating Success series of courses, weekly presentations include local growers, organizations, and university specialists with expertise in direct marketing, value-added processing, production planning, agronomy, livestock production, and more.

In addition, two Saturday field trips will visit nearby farms to learn about different styles of successful small farm enterprises.

Course facilitator is Holly Thompson, a Stanwood Angus beef rancher and WSU graduate in animal science and agriculture economics.

Well-versed in farm economics and current market trends, Thompson also facilitates Agricultural Entrepreneurship, the farm business planning course in the series and worked for Northwest Farm Credit Services as a loan officer.

Cost is $250 per farm or couple. Pre-registration is required. To download the form, Click here or contact Karie Christensen, klchristen@cahnrs.wsu.edu or call 425-357-6039. For more information on the course, contact Andrew Corbin at corbina@wsu.edu or call 425-357-6012.

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