Food to Bank Farmers Win Awards, Program Now Accepting New Applications for 2017

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Submitted by Sustainable Connections

Food To Bank On, a beginning farmer business training project facilitated by Sustainable Connections, is currently accepting applications for up to four new participants in 2017. They are proud to announce that three Food to Bank on participants were recognized at the Farm Fund Hootenanny awards last weekend.

The Food to Bank On project provides farmers with business planning resources, connects beginning farmers with mentor farmers, coordinates specialized workshops and provides new market opportunities. Participants are also paid to deliver fresh food to local food banks and shelters. Whatcom County food banks, soup kitchens and women’s shelters have received over $90,000 in fresh produce since the program’s start in 2003.

Food to Bank On participants go through a business planning series each winter, working with a cohort of peer and mentor farmers to write and revisit their business plans. They also receive marketing assistance and free membership to Sustainable Connections, enabling them to build their business through relationships with retailers, restaurants, and other established farmers. Fifty-two farmers have participated in the three-year program and 80% are still successfully farming – an outstanding rate for any beginning business. In order to provide a diversity of locally-available agricultural products, the farmers chosen for Food To Bank On grow and raise a variety of foods like vegetables, meats, eggs, flowers and more.

During last Sunday’s Community Food Co-op Farm Fund Hootenanny, co-hosted by Sustainable Connections, Food to Bank On farmers swept the awards. Food to Bank On participant Slanted Sun Farm was recognized with the New Farmer Award and Bow Hill Blueberries, a Food to Bank On mentor, was awarded Most Innovative Farm. In addition, Mike Finger from Cedarville Farm was honored with the Mentor Farmer award. As Anna Morris of Slated Sun Farm said, “we have so much love for this amazing community – we are so lucky to be a part of it!”

Applications are available on Sustainable Connection’s website and are due October 20, 2016. Profiles and photos of current farmers can also be found online. Farmers seeking more information can contact Alex Smith at alex@sustainableconnections.org

Current program participants include: McIntyre Family Farm, Triple Wren Farms and Grateful Bounty Farm, Dragon Tongue Medicinal Herb Farm, Chubby Bunny Farm, Blanchard Mountain Farm, Highland Blueberries, Small Acres Farm, Nourish Craft Farm, Pachamama Organics & Slanted Sun Farm.

Current mentor farms: Cedarville Farm, Cloud Mountain Farm Center, Osprey Hill Farm, Rabbit Fields Farm, Misty Meadows Farm & Bow Hill Blueberries.

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