Beginning Farmer Resources
Part of our mission at the conservation district is to support and preserve working farmland on our island. The average age of farmers in the Pacific Northwest is 58 years old, and Whidbey Island is no exception. Now, more than ever before, we need to help the next generation of farmers access affordable and fertile farmland in order to keep our farmland in production and our food local.
Beginning farmers are farmers with ten years or less of experience as the principle decision makers on their farm. If you are a beginning farmer, or a new farmer looking for resources and land, or an island farmer ready to begin succession planning, WICD is here to help!
We have resources on accessing farmland, planning your farm's succession, funding your farm, and connecting with other organizations that assist farmers.
Visit our Farm & Ag page for technical resources as well as information about farm plans and financial assistance through the conservation district.
Visit our Horsekeeping & Livestock page for livestock-specific technical guidance publications and recommendations.
Check out our Ag Community page for marketing and networking resources, and to connect with other new and experienced farmers through our Whidbey Island Growers Association potluck group..
Technical Assistance & Farm Plans
If you'd like to find farmland to farm on Whidbey Island, create a farm natural resource plan for your property, begin the farmland succession process, or address a resource concern on your land, request assistance in the form below - and note that since we are a free and voluntary agency, many utilize our services and we often have a waitlist for these services.
If you are looking for resources in developing a farm business plan (which is different than a farm natural resource plan), check out the following resources:
Beginning Farmer Resources
Click a Tab Below for More Resources:
Farmland access resources
Starting a Farm
Acquiring Land to Farm
Leasing Land to Farm
Farmland succession & transfer resources
Farm Succession & Transfer
Working with Land Trusts
Many land trusts throughout the country have protected farmland through 1) direct acquisition for future lease to a farmer; 2) purchase then protection through a conservation easement, then resale; and 3) simultaneous purchase together with a farmer, including protection through a conservation easement. Conservation easements may specifically address future farming, or be more general. However, recent studies have shown that agricultural conservation easements do not necessarily ensure that the land is available for future farming.
Center for Rural Affairs
National Sustainable Agriculture Association
National Young Farmers Coalition
USDA Farm Service Agency
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
top resource organizations
Top Resource Organizations
The following is a list of organizations that offer workshops, resources, and other support for new farmers and farmland owners seeking to transfer their farms. This is not a comprehensive list, as there are many other organizations dedicated tot he goal of sustainable farming, including connecting new farmers to farmland.
Training Programs for New
Although this list is not exhaustive, several in-person and online training schools for beginning farmers are offered both locally, regionally, and nationally. Consider checking out the following, and searching online for the resources that fit your needs best.
Ready to get started?
What to Expect When Requesting Assistance from the Whidbey Island Conservation District
- Our services are free and voluntary, so lots of folks love to work with us, and we look forward to working with you!
- We have 2 staff who assist with satisfying client requests
- We assist requests in the order that they are received
- Please allow for 2 weeks for an initial reply
- General info requests take approximately 1 month to respond to
- New site visit requests to properties are on a 6-month waitlist currently
- Farm, animal, and waste management plans are on a 1-year waitlist currently
- Here is a list of directories and/or organizations which may be able to respond to your request sooner. We can not recommend private sector professionals as a government entity, so have included directories housed by other entities that are populated by the professionals themselves:
- Agriculture & Forestry Professionals Directory via USDA - https://nrcs-sites.secure.force.com/FindaTSP
- Forester & Silvicultural Contractors Directory via WSU Extension - https://bit.ly/3xT2eVJ
- Arborists Directory Pacific NW International Society of Arboriculture - https://bit.ly/37S8YJ6
- Online Learning Module for Understanding Wildfire Threat to Homes - https://bit.ly/3AOeCID
- Environmental Consultants Directory for Wetlands & Wildlife - https://bit.ly/2VZHY7J
- Landscaping / Gardening Consultation with WSU Master Gardener Hotline - https://bit.ly/3CUTodZ
- Island County Noxious Weed Program Coordinator Consultation - https://bit.ly/2VXnHQe
- Construction / Land Development Contractors Directory via SICBA - https://www.sicba.org/list/