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One year later, what’s new with Viva Farms

You might remember a special announcement we made this time last year: we would be helping Viva Farms purchase 45 additional acres to expand their programming. Perhaps you were one of the generous supporters who made that partnership possible.

One year later, we wanted to share an update on Viva Farms’ growth since their land expansion, and what’s on the horizon for the Skagit Valley farm business incubator.

As a nonprofit, Viva has educated over 700 small farmers in sustainable and organic farming since 2009. Many of the farm businesses Viva incubates are Latino-owned. Viva provides new or start up farmers with five farm business start-up essentials: land, equipment and infrastructure, bilingual training, marketing, and capital.

In 2015, PCC Farmland Trust conducted a bilingual survey to understand the needs of new and aspiring farmers in Washington. Viva Farms emerged as a key partner during that process, so when the prospect arose to help Viva purchase a new piece of land to expand their programming, we jumped at the opportunity.

With PCC Farmland Trust’s help, and that of our donors, Viva closed on their new property in March of 2017. As the staff at Viva prepared the property for new farmer incubation, they began working with a small farm business, Well Fed Farms, to rotate livestock on the property for the first time. Well Fed Farms spent a number of months rotating pigs on 6 acres of the new property, one acre at a time.

While those 6 acres housed the pigs, the rest of the property was planted in barley last spring, followed by wheat and oats this past fall, as cover crops. Thanks to the counsel of Viva’s neighbor Dr. Stephen Jones at The Bread Lab, these crops can serve as soil enhancements and weed eradicators, as well as cash crops to support Viva’s programming.

The combination of livestock rotation and cover cropping means that the soil on the new Viva property will be ready for its first farming season this year. Viva’s older property has been fully leased for the past two years, and they are thrilled to expand their training program to support even more aspiring farms with this new piece of land.

By helping Viva Farms grow, the Trust hopes to create a steady flow of well-trained farmers to steward the land we’ve protected into the future. Thank you for making that possible.

Learn more about our plans to help even more farmers in the Puget Sound region in 2018 and beyond.