Featured Farm: Viva Farms
- posted on: October 7, 2023
- posted by: Val McKinley
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This article was written by 21 Acres Farm Market Team Member, Jen Horner. Jen was raised on a farm in Iowa and loves growing and eating vegetables.
Spending time with farmers brings me joy. So much of the news these days is doom and gloom, but after a quick conversation with any farmer, I feel better. Recently, I had the chance to sit down and chat with Grace, a student at Viva Farms, who was preparing to present her business plan to her cohort. She had a huge smile on her face during our entire interaction and an infectious enthusiasm about her future. And after you buy a carrot or radish from one of the student farmers at Viva (which you can find featured in the 21 Acres Farm Market this month), I promise you will be smiling too, because not only will it taste delicious, you will also be supporting the mission of Viva Farms and our next generation of farmers.
The Sammamish Valley, one of the most productive agricultural areas in Washington state, is home to dozens of farms, including one that is producing delicious produce and a crop of new farmers. Viva Farms is a nonprofit training program and farm business incubator with a mission to “empower aspiring and limited-resource farmers by providing bilingual training in holistic organic farming practices, as well as access to land, infrastructure, equipment, marketing and capital.” With locations in King and Skagit counties, Viva has educated more than 1,000 farmers in Washington state. Two of our past featured farms, Songbird Haven and Blue Glass Farms, both got their start at Viva.
Viva Farm’s King County site is located on 10 acres of land directly south of 21 Acres, hosts the Sustainable Agriculture Practicum, and serves as a Farm Incubator. The practicum is a 9-month program beginning in April of each year that provides the essentials for any farmer: training, land, infrastructure, markets, and capital. It allows farmers to go through a whole season with classroom training and hands-on experience. The Skagit County location also offers bilingual training, and almost 40% of the students there are farm workers who will become farm owners.
The farm incubator program allows graduates of the practicum to lease land in order to hatch and launch a successful farm business. Grace spoke to me about the networking opportunities Viva offered her and the strong sense of community she finds there. She met her future business partner in the practicum. And as the students filled the classroom, I sensed the camaraderie and support amongst the group.
Support Viva’s Student Farmers!
You can find Viva Farms’ produce in the 21 Acres’ Market most of the year, but be sure to support their work with your purchase in October during peak season. They will also host a pop-up market stand on our patio on Saturday, October 14 during the Sammamish Valley Alliance’s Fall Celebration. You will have the chance to buy directly from the students and learn more about the program. Maybe you or someone you know will want to apply to the program and be a part of this joyful community.