A mentor program for new farmers is seeking applicants

Sustainable Connections is accepting applications for up to four new participants for its Food To Bank On project, a training program for beginning farmers.

The three-year program pairs new farmers with seasoned mentors from farms including Cedarville Farm, Cloud Mountain Farm Center, Osprey Hill Farm, Rabbit Fields Farm, Misty Meadows Farm and Growing Gardens.

Participants go through a business planning series each winter, working with a cohort of peer and mentor farmers to work on their business plans. They also get access to other business resources and receive marketing help and free membership to Sustainable Connections, a network of local businesses and community leaders focused on sustainable practices.

Sustainable Connections pays farmers in the program to deliver fresh food to local food banks and shelters. Whatcom County food banks, soup kitchens and women’s shelters have received more than $80,000 in fresh produce from the program since it started in 2003. according to a press release from Sustainable Connections.

The program has a high success rate. Eighty percent of its 48 participants are still in business.

Current program participants include Well Fed Farms, Vine Maple Acres, Prairie Road Farm, Backyard Beans and Grains Project, McIntyre Family Farm, Triple Wren Farms, Grateful Bounty Farm, Highland Blueberries, Chubby Bunny Farm, Blanchard Mountain Farm and Dragon Tongue Medicinal Herb Farm.

Applications for the program are on Sustainable Connections’ website and are due Oct. 15, 2015. For more information, contact Sara Southerland at sara@sconnect.org.


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