DUVALL, Wash. – When Snoqualmie Valley farmers Bobbi and Chuck Lindemulder started West Valley Beef – their grass-fed, direct-to-customer beef operation – 15 years ago, they had livestock experience but little business know-how.
“Back in 2000, few folks had done something similar, and there certainly wasn’t anyone offering classes and workshops to educate beginning farmers and ranchers,” Bobbi said. “It was a steep learning curve those first few years. Many of our decisions were made using the trial and error method, which sometimes cost us plenty in time and money.
“That’s why, when they became available several years ago, I became an advocate and regular speaker for the Cultivating Success courses in Snohomish County,” she said. “Having access to the experts and resources the program brings in is like having a team of farm business consultants focused on helping your farm succeed. I’m glad others won’t have to make some of the same mistakes we made.”
Information for existing, new farms
A collaborative effort, the Cultivating Success program combines expert-driven courses and on-farm learning experiences to help foster the success of new and existing farms and ranches.
“One thing I really like about the Cultivating Success program,” Bobbi said, “is how it doesn’t subscribe to one type of farm or farming style. It provides anyone in the business of growing and selling with the critical tools needed for the success of their venture.”
Starting Thursday, Jan. 21, in both Everett and Spokane, Wash., Advanced Whole Farm Planning (http://snohomish.wsu.edu/advance-your-plan), will help existing farms refine their farm/business plans; evaluate, update and clarify farming goals and direction; sharpen farm number-crunching skills and expand and improve product marketing plans. The course is open to those with at least a year of farming under their belts and a strong desire to improve their operations.
Starting Tuesday, Jan. 19, is the first course in the Cultivating Success series for beginning farmers and Ranchers, Sustainable Small Farming and Ranching (http://snohomish.wsu.edu/sustainable-small-farming-and-ranching ).
For more information on all the Cultivating Success courses offered through WSU Snohomish County Extension, visit http://snohomish.wsu.edu/CultivatingSuccess.
Saving time, money
“Trying to grow an ag business of any sort is both a great opportunity and a huge challenge,” Bobbi said.
“I probably spent two to three years’ worth of time learning on my own how to put together everything we needed to do in order to survive and become profitable,” she said. “With no one to ask or to teach me, I spent endless hours researching, guessing, changing and learning.
“That’s why it’s wonderful to have Cultivating Success as a resource available to our farmers,” she said.
Kate Halstead, WSU Snohomish County Extension, 425-357-6024, cell 360-794-6081, firstname.lastname@example.org