edg3 FUND Semifinalists

The 2017 Kitsap Bank edg3 FUND competition offers $20,000 to a small business to help move them forward.  Their mission is to To provide funding for entrepreneurs dedicated to growing our community economicallysocially and environmentally.  We are semifinalists and in order to move to the finals, we need your help.  Finalists need to show public support in the form of votes on their website--one vote per email address. 

 
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OUR APPLICATION STATEMENT

SpringRain Farm & Orchard meets the edg3 Fund’s mission of benefiting the local community economically, socially, and environmentally in many ways. Economically, our farm generates a living for 4 full time employees and several part time employees.  SpringRain also provides income to the local businesses from whom we purchase goods and services.  As well, all of our financing is through loans from local individuals, keeping our money right in our community and benefitting local community members who are also our customers and supporters of the farm. In addition, as providers of local healthy food to local restaurants and the Inn at Port Ludlow, we improve their bottom line through educational farm visits, agritourism, and local farm to table events.  Roxanne has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Jefferson County Farmers Market since 2012, providing leadership to a critical part of the economic viability of the local farming community. 

Socially, we play a vital role in our community.  We are dedicated to increasing the food security of our local community through providing a wide range of organic, nutritious food year-round that will meet most of a balanced diet.  As well, we support the social fabric of our community. We are partnering with Jefferson County to build the Rick Tollefson Memorial trail on the south edge of our farm.  This trail will allow residents of our community to walk or bike safely between the HJ Carrol Park and the Little League ballfields while enjoying the natural beauty of a working farm.  We host educational groups on the farm on a regular basis.  From elementary school students to high school future farmers, children come to the farm to learn where their food comes from. We also provide educational experiences to the WSU Master Gardners, Evergreen College organic agriculture majors, Organic Farm School, and other organizations. Since John has Ph.D. in agroforestry, he provides an in-depth education in designing and carrying out an integrated systems approach to farming.  John and Roxanne believe strongly in education and, along with Finnriver Farm, founded the FIELD Farm Internship program in 2010.  This free, hands-on agricultural internship is still going strong and has mentored many beginning farmers. It blends on-farm learning with weekly classes on topics important for farming.  Finally, we have hosted WWOOFers on our farm since 2009. Every year, a wide range of people come and learn about sustainable, biologically-based farming and share in the work, food, and fun.

We take our responsibility to the environment very seriously.  Because agricultural land is a vanishing critical resource, we created and donated an agricultural easement on our farm to the Jefferson Land Trust, and a part of that easement is designation of 4 acres along Chimacum Creek as a riparian buffer zone.  We worked with the Olympic Salmon Coalition to restore the creek salmon spawning beds through removal of a berm and insertion of woody debris to scour the creek bottom.  We also worked with the Conservation District to plant 1400 native trees along the creek and 1300 native trees in another wetland on the farm. With the federal NRCS program, we installed low-water use irrigation, a composting facility to manage our waste, tree windbreaks, and fenced off our wetlands.  Throughout the farm, we have planted vegetative buffers to provide habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators and placed over 50 swallow nest boxes as part of our integrated pest management plan.  We purchased and installed a 9.8 kw solar power system on one of our barns to generate renewable electricity. Our unheated greenhouses help us conserve resources and provide food during the fall and winter months to our local community without additional energy input.  We reduce carbon use by allowing our customers to purchase local food rather than food shipped from California and Mexico.  The greenhouses also allow us to produce food in the winter at a time when water is abundant in the PNW and critically short in California and Mexico.  The carbon sequestration in our permanent perennial crops and native tree plantings and the carbon reduction in reduced shipping of produce mean we are contributing in positive ways to reducing climate change. 

 
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How we would use the $20,000

John, the main farmer Springrain Farm & Orchard, has spent the last 8 years experimenting and trialing the varieties and growing practices that allow us to extend the season of many crops and grow others out of season.  Through that time, he has perfected the specific varieties and types of crops, the specific timing of activities, and growing practices for over 15 crops and is constantly seeking to expand this list. As well during these 8 years, we have developed the market for these crops and have a long list of local retailers such as the PT Co-op and Chimacum Corner Farmstand, local farm stand customers, and local restaurants eager to buy our products every week. We cannot begin to meet this demand in the winter and constantly have to turn down local people who want to purchase our out-of-season food.  We know what to grow, how to grow it, and have customers ready to buy it, but we are hampered by a lack of covered greenhouse space. 

The $20,000 from the edg3 FUND would allow us to significantly expand our winter growing space.  This additional space would make it possible for us to grow enough food to meet the out of season demand and provide more product to our wholesale customers.  For example, the PT Co-op has an explicit part of its mission to purchase local products and would happily purchase winter produce from us if we were able to grow more of it. The additional income from this one outlet would allow us to hire a full-time employee in the winter when agricultural employment is scarce, and potentially provide an additional $10,000 in income from January to March.  The additional covered space would also provide additional income in the spring and summer.  

Cash flow is a perennial problem with agriculture, with huge expenditures out front several months before the harvest; additional covered growing space allows us to generate income in the winter and smooth out our cash flow.  The $20,000 would make a huge difference in the sustainability of our farm, ability to pay off debts, and provide a more secure source of income.  Currently we are unable to pay John, our main farmer, a living wage.  With additional covered space, we would have a more even cash flow and generate income that could be used to pay our farmer a reasonable wage while also providing solid and secure income to our employees. 

Socially, the $20,000 means we could contribute solidly to the food security of our community and provide organic, nutritious food year-round to all types of people, including those who often have difficulty purchasing healthy food in the winter.  With additional greenhouse space, we could provide more food at an affordable price to a wider range of people. Additional covered space would allow us to conserve our own resources while also reducing the burden on the California aquifers, shipping costs, and fossil fuel use.  Since we are such a small farm, $20,000 would make a huge difference to us across the board.