FREE Course:

startupWant to take your business concept to the next level? Working with our colleagues at the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship, Fledge and Kick, we’ve become great believers in the lean startup approach. Lean companies test their markets and develop their customer base by providing a limited offering, assessing the feedback from real market forces, and adapt their approach based on what they learn.  This makes a failure less catastrophic, and efficiently identifies successful approaches with the smallest possible investment of capital up front.

As a serial entrepreneur, and author of two well known books on entrepreneurship, The Four Steps to the Epiphany, and The Startup Owner’s Manual, Steve Blank shares his knowledge in his free course titled Lean LaunchpadThe key idea in this course is learning how to rapidly develop and test ideas using real life customer and marketplace feedback. Students will learn how to get out of the (virtual) classroom and identify unmet needs of their customers. Armed with accurate market data and customer feedback they can build more successful business models. Learn more and sign up here

SVP Cascadia Foodshed Field Trip

Dan Hulse demonstrates the workings of a 100 year old seed drill
Dan Hulse demonstrates the workings of a 100 year old seed drill

The phrase  “farm to plate” is on the lips of many in the region, but how does it actually happen?  Social Venture Partners and members of the Cascadia Foodshed Funding Project hopped on a bus with Slow Money NW and PCC Farmland Trust to trace the journey through the local food system from Tahoma Farms to one of the Northwest’s premier food hubs, Charlie’s Produce.

Pierce County’s Puyallup Valley boasts some of the region’s most fertile and productive farmland, but development pressures have threatened it with conversion to other uses.  Because of the rich soils and agricultural history, this area is a top priority for conservation for the PCC Farmland Trust. Over the last five years, the Trust has worked with stakeholders, State and local governments, as well as private donors and foundations to conserve hundreds of acres in the Valley. One of those properties is now home to Tahoma Farms. By purchasing a conservation easement on the property, PCC Farmland Trust was able to lower the cost of the farm by 50%, enabling Kim and Dan Hulse to pursue their dreams of owning their own farm.

The HAACP certified packing line for Terra Organics
The custom built packing line for Terra Organics

Tahoma Farms is a 40 acre multi-crop vegetable farm that sells primarily through its home delivery service, Terra Organics.  Dan, Kim and their two children live on the farm and operate the home delivery service, manage production, as well as a nascent agri-tourism business, hosting events at their outdoor banquet hall, a converted dairy barn.  Because of the direct-to-consumer sales, Tahoma/Terra Organics has an onsite washing and cooling line, which enables them to clean and pack their produce for delivery to customers around the region, including restaurants, distributors, and CSA customers.

Given the seasonality of Washington State farming, Dan and Kim need to supplement the farm production with outside fruits and vegetables, and need to sell their surplus to a distributor, which is where Charlie’s Produce comes in. Charlie’s Produce is a local, employee-owned aggregator and distributor that has grown into the largest independently owned produce company in the Pacific Northwest. Charlie’s trucks zigzag across the Pacific Northwest, balancing the supply and demand for high quality fresh produce every day. Thousands of pounds of fruit and vegetables pass through their facility in Seattle’s SoDo industrial area each day, including sunchokes and carrots from Tahoma Farms.  They supplement local supply with national and global products to meet their customer demand. Charlie’s also offers some minimally processed foods, such as cut and washed romaine lettuce, for restaurant and institutional buyers.

Inside one of the Charlie's refrigerated warehouses
Inside one of the Charlie’s refrigerated warehouses

While the buyers at Charlie’s don’t have control over which products a farmer chooses to grow, they can offer advice about which products they have in local abundance and which they have to buy from outside the region.  While the freshness and quality of local produce has a strong appeal, it’s often cheaper to source from California or Mexico, but right now, the customers are demanding local produce and are willing to pay a premium for it. Charlie’s is always open to new sources for great local food.

If we’d had more time, Dan would have let us pick, wash, pack and deliver the week’s shipment to Charlie’s, but . . . maybe next trip, we’ll actually get our hands dirty.

 

New Mobile Poultry Processing Capability in Puget Sound Region

ATTENTION Pastured Poultry producers (and those raising rabbit, waterfowl, game birds, etc.),

Exciting NEWS!!! NABC is currently having a state of the art Mobile Poultry Processing Unit (MPPU) built to serve the needs of all commercial scale producers in Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish Counties as well as larger scale producers in King, Island and San Juan Co. The MPPU will be fully staffed with experienced operators emphasizing food safety and efficiencies to provide each producer with the highest quality product at a reasonable cost. The Unit will be equipped with the best available equipment to achieve a humane kill using a stun knife, effective scald and pluck, followed by evisceration in shackles (to avoid cross contamination), an organically approved anti-microbial dip (lactic acid), and air-chilled for top quality and the safest end product. In addition the MPPU will be offering custom cutting of product, vacuum packing, and professional, custom labels for each producer (with farm logo & name).

Once the MPPU is operational (estimated to be by late May), producers will be able to schedule services online through the NABC website. You will be able to choose your processing date, provide cutting and packaging specifications and be assured that all of your needs will be professionally met. You can specify how many birds you want packed whole, or choose the number to be cut in halves, or packed as breasts, legs & thighs, wings, and soup packs. Chicken feet and livers can also be specified, as well as gizzards and hearts if desired.

Each producer must obtain a WSDA Food Processor License, http://agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/FoodProcessors/, (only $55 annually) which will require a source of potable water. In addition, each farm must provide on-farm composting for offal, have a 220 V power source in proximity to the processing area, potable water, a receiving area for waste water (a suitable pasture or other well drained area that will not pollute a water supply or stream), and a level paved or graveled parking area for the 26’ MPPU to operate.

The cost for services is subject to change, but the objective is to provide for a cost effective infrastructure to serve the processing needs of producers while supporting the profitability of their enterprise. Since producers will be paying for the operating overhead of the MPPU the cost will include mileage, staff time, a share of depreciation and insurance, and the cost of materials and supplies. At this time it is estimated that a producer with 150 birds to process per batch including, for this example, 90 miles round trip travel, cutting-up, packaging and custom labeling all product will be paying approx. $3.60 per bird. Clearly fewer birds would cost incrementally more and a greater number of birds would cost less per processed package. Aside from providing for the WSDA Food Processor License as outlined above, the producer is only responsible for delivering their birds to the back of the Unit and, some hours later, picking up their finished product at the front door of the Unit, ready to sell!

Producers will be able to sell fresh or frozen product depending on the requirements of their market. They will, of course need to provide refrigerated and/or frozen storage capacity, but the legalities and safety of product storage will be covered by their Food Processor License.

NABC is offering a Poultry Production Workshop, repeated on three consecutive Mondays, specifically geared toward those producers that intend to utilize the services of the MPPU. Please see below or the attached flyer to register at: www.agbizcenter.org, Classes and Workshops under Business Services. Shortcut: http://www.agbizcenter.org/business-services/classes-and-workshops, scroll down to the specific workshop date that you wish to register for.

NOTE: Timely Workshop registration is URGENT! Please sign-up NOW… If we don’t get an adequate response we will need to postpone these workshops and then we’ll be into your busiest spring season creating further challenges for your time.

Pastured Poultry Production Course

DATE: Repeats on three dates:
March 10 ( Skagit Farmers Burlington Main Office)
March 17 (WSU Snohomish County Extension)
March 24 (WSU Whatcom County Extension)
TIME: 9:00 am to 1:30 pm

INSTRUCTORS: Drew Corbin – WSU Snohomish County Extension, Chris Benedict – WSU Whatcom County Extension, Harley Soltes – Bow Hill Blueberry Farm, Fred Berman – NABC, Sera Hartman – NABC
FEE: General admission: $55
Workshop materials included.
***Pre-registration is required.

This workshop is for both current producers considering scaling up their production and those investigating entrance into this promising sector of the poultry industry. Presenters will discuss how to safely, profitably, and legally raise meat birds. Learn about the pros and cons associated with raising meat birds and how to effectively evaluate the enterprise before getting started!

Topics include:

  • Breeds – select the best fit
  • Chick sourcing and creating an on-farm hatchery
  • Husbandry tips for commercial-sized production
  • Poultry nutrition overview
  • Building a healthy pasture
  • Risk management, licensing, and processing requirements

Comprehensive classes to provide the tools and know- how necessary to develop and launch a new value- added product into the market place! Want to learn more? Contact the NABC office:

Phone: 360-336-3727

Email: info@agbizcenter.org or visit their website at: www.agbizcenter.org

Funding Available for Northwest Food and Farming Businesses

cff-cover1
We are pleased to announce the opening of the application period for the  Cascadia Foodshed Funding Project.  This project brings together a unique group of foundations and investors who are seeking to create a positive impact through a combination of grants, equity, loans and assistance to food and farming businesses in Oregon and Washington.  Up to five separate investments of between $25,000 and $250,000 are expected in 2014.Candidates for investment should be:
  • located in or provide substantial benefit to Whatcom, King, or Pierce counties; Eastern Washington; or Multnomah County in Oregon;
  • improve measures of health, social equity, family wage employment, and rural community resilience;
  • seeking funding of $25,000 to $250,000.
We will accept applications until February 28, 2014, and deploy funds on a rolling basis throughout the year. All applications will be received through Slow Money Northwest’s Gust portal at https://gust.com/organizations/slow-money (select food/drink as your industry). Your application should include at a minimum:
  1. Your business plan in enough detail to show how this investment will help you succeed;
  2. Financials, past and projected, that match your business plan and funding need;
  3. Your funding need, and how it will help accomplish your business goals; and
  4. A statement of benefit (500 words maximum) describing how your enterprise can help improve one or more of the following impact areas: Health, Social Equity, Family Wage Job Creation and Preservation, Rural Community Resilience, and Ability to Influence Policy.  For more detail on the impact areas,click here.
We will review applications and reply within 30 days with our initial response. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions about the project or application process.
Email: cascadia@slowmoneynw.org
Phone: Japhet Koteen at 206-326-9828.

Impact Investing Reception this Wednesday (12/5) in Seattle

Join us for a gathering of impact investing professionals, social entrepreneurs, and all others who believe in catalyzing investment capital for environmental, social, and financial impact.  Tim Freundlich and Jed Emerson of ImpactAssets will be visiting from San Francisco and will join in conversation with Social Venture Partners and local Seattle organizations in the impact investing field for a brief program, followed by plenty of time for mingling.

6:00-6:30 Arrival, networking

6:30-7:45 Jed Emerson and local Seattle impact organizations will discuss the spectrum and growth of impact investing, supported by tangible examples.  This group will represent and share perspectives across the ecosystem of investors, entrepreneurs, and fund managers working to increase the flow of capital towards impact. Introduction by Tim Freundlich, ImpactAssets, and Paul Shoemaker, SVP Seattle.

This event is geared toward a general interest audience that includes anyone who wants their money to have a positive impact in the world, whether you are an accredited investor or just want to move your money.  We look forward to seeing you this Wednesday and celebrating another great season of change.

Financing Available for New Farms and New Farmers

We are holding two FREE  informational workshops  this week in Skagit and Whatcom Counties with Viva Farms.  These free workshops will be  will be held March  27th at Sustainable Connections  in Bellingham and on March 29th at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op in Mt. Vernon. For more information please contact Leigh Newman-Bell

Bellingham Microloan Workshop – CANCELED, PLEASE STAY POSTED FOR NEW SCHEDULE
Wed, March 27, 6:00-8:00PM

Mt Vernon Microloan Workshop 

Fri, March 29, 7:00-8:30PM
Skagit Valley Co-op*, Room 309 (upstairs)
*Feel free to grab dinner or a snack from downstairs and bring it with you.

Slow Money Northwest & Viva Farms will host a workshop covering topics such as when is a smart time to borrow, what low interest loan programs are available, how to access them, how to apply for USDA loans, answering questions throughout. Following the Microloan workshop, head down the street with us for microbrews at the Empire Alehouse to chat it up at farmer social hour!

To learn more about our approach to providing financing for startup farming businesses, you can view this webinar  held by the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) last month featuring Tim Crosby discussing our Farmer Reserve Fund and the larger the role Slow Money is playing in identifying innovative opportunities for farmers that may not qualify for traditional funding. This webinar was a part of their Community Capital series.

Draft Principles for Slow Money Northwest Business Investment

While the Slow Money Principles have inspired us in our work, we wanted a more operational set of principles to drive our investment efforts.  There are many ways to define what makes a responsible business, but we started with the vision of our friends at BALLE, and adapted it to  include our goals of increasing healthy food production and soil fertility. Thanks to our management committee for pulling these together.

We want to support responsible food and farm businesses that are:

  1. working to promote a thriving and just regional food economy; and
  2. designed to maximize benefit to people, and the planet while yielding a “living return” to owners and investors (triple bottom line performance)

There are many paths to achieve these goals, but for the sake of example, efforts to approach this type of performance could include some of the ideas below:

Improving environmental performance and quality by reducing chemical inputs in operations, promoting carbon sequestration in soil, increasing soil depth and fertility, minimizing runoff and water use, promoting biodiversity, minimizing waste, or tracking impacts of your business.

Helping individuals and communities by sourcing products from and selling products to businesses that are also working toward promoting a responsible and just regional food economy, providing employees a healthy workplace with meaningful living-wage jobs, cooperating with other businesses in ways that balance their self-interest with their obligation to the community and future generations.

Slow Money Northwest to Develop Investment Strategy for Regional Farm-to-Institution Sector

As part of a regional partnership with other non-profits, school districts, and government agencies, Slow Money Northwest has received funding from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support their efforts to bring more healthy local food into our schools, childcare facilities, senior centers and hospitals.  Over the next six months, we will develop a plan to invest strategically in businesses and organizations that can help make healthy food in our institutions. Keep an eye on this space for your opportunity to help, and be a part of this transformative effort.  See the press release below for more information.

Pilot Project To Support Expansion Of Farm To Institution Connections For Puget Sound Region
SEATTLE, WA (January 10, 2013) – With the goal of reducing childhood obesity by improving access to healthy food choices and creating new market opportunities for Washington farmers, Cascade Harvest Coalition, with funding support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is launching a pilot project to grow farm to institution connections in childcare, schools and hospitals in the region.“As past and ongoing work of our collaborative partners demonstrates, the Puget Sound region has made strides to increase access to healthy food in these institutional settings, but it can’t be brought to scale without additional resources”, said Mary Embleton, Executive Director of the Coalition.  “This project will address those barriers by identifying ways of leveraging and scaling successful aspects of farm to institution initiatives, providing replicable models and fast-tracking efforts to allow programs to grow without hands-on assistance and developing a plan that provides strategic investment recommendations that could catalyze success within the Puget Sound region over the next 3-5 years.”

The two-year project, funded with $200,000 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, builds on current farm to institution efforts that have achieved some success in serving affordable, healthy meals within the target market and creating economic development opportunities for farmers and food hubs by connecting them with new markets and contracts.   The project brings together a diversity of partners, including Grow Food (dba Viva Farms), Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC), Health Care Without HarmWashington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA),Kent School DistrictSlow Money Northwest and Public Health Seattle-King County.

“Helping to identify and address key production, food safety and infrastructure needs that will allow us and other farms to provide fresh, healthy food to childcare, schools and hospitals is a tremendous opportunity,” said Ethan Schaffer, Director of Business and Organizational Development at Viva Farms.

“There is a critical role of connecting farms to partner agencies and institutions, helping build good working relationships and figuring out successful systems and models that  can be replicated,” said Lucy Norris, Director of Marketing with NABC.  “This project will provide the opportunity to share lessons learned with others wanting to increase access to local food and provide economic development opportunities.”

“Our efforts to expand the use of fresh, local fruits and vegetables on our menus has really had a positive impact on our students,” said Tom Ogg, Supervisor of Nutrition Services, Kent School District.  “They are getting to experience a larger variety of products and at the same time learn more about how and where their food is grown.”

New Jobs for the New Year


Stockbox is hiring for two positions:

Local neighborhood grocer startup, Stockbox, is hiring an Area Grocery Manager to join our central operating team. Please submit your resume and cover letter by Saturday, January 19th to jacqueline@stockboxgrocers.com.

Stockbox South Park is hiring a part-time Customer Service Clerk. Please click for the job description and employment application. Please submit resume and cover letter to work@stockboxgrocers.com.

Position Open: Pike Place Market Manager


Pike Place Market is looking for a market manager for their upcoming season.  The manager will work at the two satellite markets as well.  See attached for details.
Here’s how to apply:
1. Apply online and email completed applications to hr@pikeplacemarket.org
2. Mail cover letter and resume to:
·         Human Resources
·         Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority
·         85 Pike St., Room 500
·         Seattle, WA 98101
3. Apply in person at the Market office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.
Compensation at the PDA includes a full range of benefits, including holidays, vacation, sick leave, employee health and dental insurance, life insurance, long term disability and much more.  The Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from persons of diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
Zack Cook
Farm Program Manager
85 Pike Street, Room 500  I  Seattle, WA 98101


Position Open: Vashon Island Market Manager 2013 Season

The Vashon Island Farmers Market is a vibrant, thriving organization.  We are looking for someone passionately committed to local farmers and artisans to help us continue to grow. The position begins March 1, and averages about 15 hours/week during the season, April – December.  The Market Manager, responsible for all aspects of the Market,  is an employee of the Vashon Island Growers Association (VIGA) and reports to the President of the Board of Directors. Salary range is $15 – 20/hour, depending on knowledge and experience, and does not include benefits.

For more information and application, please contact Bernie O’Malley at bernorvi2@comcast.net or write to VIGA, PO Box 2894, Vashon, WA 98070. Position closes January 20th.