Our StoryGrowing Farmers, Community and Food
Together, we preserve sustainable farming by creating a strong and just local food system.
We 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.
Viva Farms is a non-profit (501c-3 and charitable organization), Farm Business Incubator and Training Program established in 2009. We operate 119 acres, two locations in Skagit County, and one in King County, Washington. We lower the barriers for beginning farmers, and create the opportunity for success. Viva Farms has educated over 1,000 farmers (150+ Spanish speakers) in sustainable organic farming. We are currently incubating 29 farm businesses (9 Latino-owned, 44% female-owned) and anticipate having 40 students in our Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture in 2021.
Nestled between the Cascade Mountain Range and the Puget Sound, and nourished by some of the largest rivers on the West Coast, northwest Washington is home to some of the most productive soil in the world. Skagit County alone produces 300 million dollars annually in over 90 different food crops and is 2nd in the Puget Sound Region, and 10th in the state based on crop value.
But Western Washington is facing a generation crisis in farming as farmers with an average age of 58 are retiring (Viva farmers average age is 39), and the number of farms, produce processing facilities, and farmland acreage are all decreasing. The disappearance of these vital components of our local and regional food economy is alarming, and we need to act now before we pass the point of no return in local communities and as a region. In the next 20 years, 70% of all Washington State farmers are expected to retire, with their farmland changing hands. Skagit Valley alone has lost 35 percent of its farmland since only 1940 shrinking from 150,000 acres to 97,644 acres today. The number of farms in Skagit County has decreased 14% from 2007 to 2017, and American Farmland Trust has designated the region the fifth most threatened agricultural region in the nation.
We believe that sustainable organic farming can be an economically viable business, and it is our hope that with the knowledge, experience, and passion for producing healthy food in a sustainable way, todays’ aspiring farmers will become part of the solution that nourishes our planet and ourselves for generations to come.