Washington County is home to thousands of acres of farmland and an array of farm-related businesses. While a drive around rural Washington County could convince you that farmland is endless, the reality is it’s constantly under threat.
Farmland is being lost in Washington County at an increasingly rapid rate. One reason is because our farming workforce is retiring and not being adequately replaced by young and beginning farmers. Despite the essential need for a robust farming community, many barriers exist that prevent aspiring farmers from entering the field. Challenges include limited access to affordable land, high start-up costs, and limited opportunities for gaining farming experience.
Local Farms Use The Conservation Education Grant to Train New Farmers
Ensuring our community has a bright future requires investment in young people today. That’s why one of the focuses of Tualatin SWCD’s Conservation Education grant is workforce development. Two grantees are using this funding opportunity to empower and train new farmers who will keep our families fed in the future.
Working Theory Farm Lifts People Up and Feeds Them Too
Surrounded by suburban houses, this organic Hillsboro farm exemplifies the growing pressure urban development has on the county’s shrinking farmland. But its proximity to the Urban Growth Boundary isn’t what makes this farm so special. It’s the people and their partnerships that make this operation shine.
Working Theory Farm provides alternative education and employment opportunities to young people who experience barriers to thriving within traditional systems. Through vegetable growing and livestock raising, system-impacted youth learn personal and professional skills while becoming invested in the land they steward. Working Theory Farm’s close partnerships with other non-profits doubles its impact by helping them distribute the majority of their harvests to communities facing food insecurity. In just three years, they’ve managed to donate over 30,000 pounds of organic food to families in need.
We’re honored to support these young farmers who are nourishing their community and the land. You can support them too by purchasing a share in their CSA or by making a donation through their website.
CAMPO is Building a More Equitable Farming System
Growing out of a 2020 paid internship program on Stoneboat Farm, CAMPO is now its own farming collective that creates permanent employment opportunities for aspiring farmers. It provides an avenue for people to transition away from traditional farm labor into a sustainable agriculture career. In addition to training new farmers, CAMPO is working towards an agroecological operation that encompasses no-till and other regenerative agriculture methods.
Most unique of all is CAMPO’s commitment to creating an alternative to conventional agriculture’s hierarchical power structure. CAMPO members build the program through collective decision-making and shared visioning. They focus on empowering young Spanish speakers, Latin American agriculturalists, and beginning farmers through sharing resources, knowledge, language, labor, and profits. As the program grows and new farmers join the collective, CAMPO hopes to become a hub for education and collaboration, so farmer training opportunities are available to the entire community.
Tualatin SWCD grant funding provided pay for two interns who worked alongside CAMPO and may join the collective at the completion of the internship. To help support the internship yourself, you can make a donation or join their CSA on their website.
The Conservation Education Grant is Open for Applications!
We offer the Conservation Education grant one to two times per year depending on funding availability. Learn about the eligibility requirements and see more examples of projects that have received awards.
Not sure if your idea is suitable for a conservation education grant? Contact our grant manager below to talk through your idea or learn about other funding opportunities.