The Viva Farms Incubator started in 2009. In Washington State, the Port of Skagit leases 33 acres to Viva Farms that are subleased to new farmers to launch and grow their businesses. Viva minimizes prohibitive start-up costs by providing access to shared resources: education, training, equipment, technical assistance, capital, land, and markets. Ongoing agricultural and entrepreneurial support from peers, WSU Extension personnel, and Viva Farms staff increases the likelihood of early-stage success.
Core areas of support include organic production practices, marketing, sales, distribution, record keeping and liability management. Farmers also complete courses in WSU’s Cultivating Success. Each 12-week course is offered annual Sustainable Small Farming and Ranching in the fall, and Agricultural Entrepreneurship and Farm Business Planning in the spring.
The farm incubator is not an end point for farmers. It is a starting point to transition them to farm ownership and secure long-term tenure. Once farmers establish stable agricultural enterprises at the incubator, Viva Farms will help them relocate to new land and continue growing their operations. They will need capital to acquire land, equipment, seeds, livestock and other farm inputs. The goal of the loan fund is to provide affordable start-up and growth capital to new farmers.