Rising land costs have made finding affordable farmland a significant challenge to starting a new farm business in King County. In order to help new farmers overcome this land access challenge, SnoValley Tilth created the Experience Farming Project (EFP), which leases farmland and infrastructure to farmers looking to start sustainable businesses and offers easy access to resources, education and community through SnoValley Tilth’s Farm Services.
Thanks to a strategic partnership between SnoValley Tilth and King County, EFP will continue to expand and offer its programming to more farmers.
How did the partnership come together between King County and SnoValley Tilth?
SnoValley Tilth is a small nonprofit organization dedicated to its member base of farmers and farm businesses. They have always been dedicated to developing programs and resources that fit with the needs of their members. A major need for new farmers is land to farm on.
Since there is increasing demand for land in King County, it is challenging for new farmers to find farmland.
In early 2019, King County acquired the nearly 70-acre Beyers farm which is approximately 1.5 miles southwest of City of Carnation. The high-value farmland was previously leased by the former owner to SnoValley Tilth for the EFP.
With County acquisition of the property, a new lease will be negotiated with SnoValley Tilth to provide stability to the program and keep the land in farm production so more local farmers have the opportunity to grow food.
The acquisition supports King County’s Local Food Initiative goals of keeping land in agricultural production and growing new farmers. SnoValley Tilth and King County are working together to ensure this farmland can remain available and a resource to commercial farmers.
What are the objectives of the Experience Farming Project?
The EFP engages the independent, tenacious, and inquisitive nature of many farmers. This program allows flexibility for farmers to start their businesses without the burdensome upfront costs of purchasing land and infrastructure.
Farmers can experiment with and improve their business models, grow their markets, learn on their own terms, and begin to establish their businesses while slowly making the investments in the infrastructure they require.
How will the newly acquired property contribute to the success of the Experience Farming Project?
A dedicated farmer himself and a host to several new farm businesses over the years, Dan Beyers hosted EFP on his property since 2016 and was always supportive of the mission of SnoValley Tilth and the purpose of EFP.
SnoValley Tilth will continue to offer EFP on this property, which allows them to make investments in the land, improvements to infrastructure and host four to six more new farmers on site. There are 18 acres of active farmland, multiple greenhouses, a farm pad, and storage buildings on this EFP site for new farmers. These resources and land help SnoValley Tilth provide a consistent and productive place for new farm businesses to grow.
How does SnoValley Tilth plan on using the new EFP site moving forward?
SnoValley Tilth is excited to continue growing the acreage they can offer to participant farmers in EFP and think that this property has the potential to be a demonstration for the benefits of sustainable farming in proximity to habitat. SnoValley Tilth is also interested in exploring alternative models for land ownership or long-term leasing that promote stability and security for a farm business while allowing commercial farmers invest confidently in the land.
Visit SnoValley Tilth’s website for more information about the Experience Farming Project.