FarmersGrowing Good Food, Nourishing the Community
Alki Market Garden
Marshall Leroy is owner and operator of Alki Market Garden, and joined the incubator in 2017. He focuses primarily on mixed vegetables for wholesale.
Mauricio Soto and Senaida Vela are the owners of Arado Farms, specializing in raspberries and strawberries. They have been with Viva since 2013. Mauricio is originally from Nayarit, Mexico, and came to the United States in 1990, where he and Senaida met. They and have been in Washington for the past 17 years. Before coming to Viva, Mauricio managed several large berry farms in Skagit, and is considered a pruning expert around the valley. “Soy una persona que le gusta la vida al aire libre,” Mauricio says. “I am a person who likes living life outdoors.”
Anne Baxter grows cold-weather kiwis and artichokes.
Boldly Grown Farm
Husband-and-wife team Jacob Slosberg and Amy Frye founded Boldly Grown Farm in 2015. They specialize in winter storage crops, including winter squash, carrots, onions, beets, cabbage and more. By focusing on winter crops, their goal is to extend the availability of local food into the winter months. They also grow flowers for sale and to provide pollinator habitat. Amy comes from farming roots in Minnesota, while Jacob found his love for farming on a high school trip to Costa Rica. The couple met at the Center for Sustainable Food Systems at the University of British Columbia, where Jacob managed vegetable production and pastured poultry, and Amy managed operations, sales and marketing. “We are passionate and ambitious!” Amy says. “We want to feed a lot of people and ensure that a greater portion of the population has ready access to healthy and sustainably-grown produce.” Website: Boldly Grown Farm
Francisco and Zochitl Cabrera are originally from Oaxaca, Mexico. They came to California in 2003 and then moved to the Skagit Valley in 2007. In California, Francisco worked primarily in strawberry production, but here in Skagit the Cabreras specialize in lettuce, zucchini and a variety of other vegetables. They began farming at Viva in 2016.
Earth Fire Farm
Bruce Lindsay has been with Viva in one way or another since 2012. He started his first season helping a friend with weed control, and got his first plot the following season. Since then, he has been farming a ¼ or ½ acre each year. A retired soil scientist, Bruce says he has “always been interested in eating good food,” and wanted to learn how to grow food for himself and others. Asked about his farm name, he says that he was out hoeing chard one evening and it had the bright green glow. He had this vision that the plants are the fire form of earth — plants transform the sun’s energy into food.
Francisco Farias began farming at Viva in 2018, after completing the Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture. He grows a variety of mixed vegetables and strawberries.
First Cut Farm
Linda runs and owns First Cut Farm as a solo, hand-grown farm, growing a mix of vegetables on 1/3 of an acre. Linda is a filmmaker turned farmer and the name comes from the term “first cut,” which is the first version of a film, as well as the finest cut of a vegetable. Linda’s drive to grow food comes from the urge to share that bounty with those around her and connect the energy of this small farm movement with the community. The power in a new food system is all rooted in the earth that First Cut Farm is a part of. Linda emphasizes using hand tools and lower impact methods for soil health.
Nate Minor began farming at Viva in 2017. Nate is a mathematician by training, and hopes to pursue math and farming in tandem. He has been a home gardener for as long as he can remember, and started farming when he decided to forego grad school. “Gardening was at the top of the list,” he said. “I thought, ‘Why not go for it?’” Nate says that yes, farming is hard work, but the lifestyle intrigues him. His goal is to turn the farm into something he can live off of while he’s young. “I can teach math when I’m old,” he said.
Jaci Vanderwerff began farming at Viva in 2018, after completing the Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture. She grows a wide variety of flowers.
Frea Gladish began farming at Viva in 2017. She grows a variety of mixed vegetables and edible flowers. She believes that the farmer’s role, first and foremost, is to feed the soil; then herself, then her community. Asked what she is doing on her ¼ acre plot to feed the soil, she explains that she has planted oats as a cover crop to nourish the soil, as well as incorporated compost.
Jonquil Farms & Garden
Jonelle Schermerhorn began farming at Viva in 2016. She is one of Viva’s few Skagit locals. Growing up in Conway, she says: “I know that agriculture is the heart of the Valley, and I wanted to be apart of it however I can.” Her goal is to be self-sufficient as a farmer, and eventually own her own farm. “I want to provide food for the community. That’s what it’s all about!” Asked about her farm name, she explained that ‘Jonquil’ means ‘daffodil.’ Her birthday is in March and her grandpa always thought that her name was Jonquil. Jonelle grows primarily radishes and cucumbers on a ½ acre.
Pure Nelida Farm
Nelida Martinez owns Pure Nelida farm and began farming at Viva in 2010. She grows a wide variety of vegetables and berries. Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, she spent about 10 years in California before coming to Washington in 2008. Asked about her experience farming, Nelida says: “Me gusta mucho crecer las plantas y producir bien alimentación para alguien más. ¡Me gusta mucho, este trabajo es mi pasión!” “I like to grow plants and provide nourishment for everyone. I like it a lot, this work is my passion!”
Andrew Green has been with Viva since 2017, and focuses on mixed vegetables and livestock, and also runs a small nursery.
Regino and Martina Guitierrez specialize in strawberries and green beans. They are among the original Viva farmers, having been with us since 2009.
Sabino Flores specializes in chiles, and in 2016 received a Value Added Producer Grant to build a hoop house and produce chiles for processing. Asked about his experience farming, he says: “Quiero ser un ranchero porque quiero sembrar verduras que sean saludables para comer.” “I want to be a farmer because I want to plant vegetables that are healthy to eat.”
Lorna Velasco brings 20 years in social activism to her work as a farmer. She started as an intern on the SAgE student farm in 2016, and now runs her own farm, focusing on Filipino vegetables. She also maintains three community gardens at several public housing appartments in the Seattle area.
Silva Family Farms
Silva Family Farms is owned by Pablo and Maura Silva, who have over 20 years experience working for various local farms. With the help of their children, Pablo and Maura are now in their third season of growing strawberries on their own farm. Silva Family Farm specializes in certified organic Albion strawberries, which are a large, firm fruit with high sugar content and a wonderfully sweet flavor—great for preserving or serving fresh!
Sweet Hollow Farm
Vero Vergara and Caitlin Ehlers began farming at Viva in the 2018 season, after completing the Titlh Alliance Incubator Farm program. Sweet Hollow Farm is a cooperative that runs a CSA and partners with various organizations in the Seattle area to promote food access.
Tom Hiegler began farming at Viva in 2018, after completing the Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture. He grows a variety of mixed vegetables and strawberries, and sells at various farmers markets.
The Crows Farm
The Crows Farm is a certified organic farm, focused on garlic, herbs, flowers and Italian heirlooms. Matthew Cioni and Giana Wakim begin their farm at Viva in the fall of 2014. “Herbs have become our favorite crops to manage,” they say. “If you give them a little, they will give back a lot. We also love that our herbs attract many beneficial insects to our farm, which is a very important component of our pollination and pest control. Not to mention, when they are flowering, they are all so beautiful and aromatic!” Asked about the origin of their farm name, The Crows Farm, they say that it “came to life because we love crows.” In addition to being an affectionate nickname among their friends, Matthew and Giana explained that: “The crow is also one of the most intelligent and thoughtful birds. They have amazing communication and problem solving skills and they look after each other. We love nature and wanted to include a part of that in our name.”
Tuk Muk Farm
Shawn Miller has been farming his whole life, and joined the Viva incubator in 2015. He focuses on wide variety of Asian vegetables, and also raises animals.
Well Fed Farms
Erik Olson grew up in Seattle, and started farming at the age of 23. He began with the idea of building a diversified natural and holistic operation, and has maintained that vision, growing a variety of vegetables for farmers’ markets and wholesale, as well as raising 52 hogs for meat, and chickens for meat and eggs. He raises his hogs Viva, and grows a wide variety of mixed organic vegetables as well. You can find Erik at the Anacortes and Lake Forest Park farmers’ markets, Skagit county restaurants, the Puget Sound Food Hub, and Skagit Valley Coop.