Down on the Farm Series: Growing Great Farmers

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Our Butternut Sage Primo came with a mission this year: spotlight a farm that supports ingenuity. We love teaming up with local businesses that share our commitment to sustainability and environmental protection. Viva Farms had all of that in spades with the added bonus of helping others achieve their dreams.

Imagine those tech incubators in Silicon Valley; programmers cranking out code and brainstorming business ideas from living room hubs. Now swap Silicon Valley for the Skagit Valley, programmers for farmers, and living rooms for one to five-acre parcels of land. That’s Viva Farms. Founded in 2009, Viva Farms is a 33-acre certified organic farm broken up into plots for individual farmers just launching their farming businesses.

“We grow new farmers and reverse a looming crisis; aging farmers with few trained farm business owners to replace them,” says Operations Director Shannon Carmody.

Currently, Viva Farms hosts 14 budding farm businesses started by farmers from diverse backgrounds. You’ll find Latino farm workers using their extensive experience to start their own farms, city folks who traded their corporate gigs for farm life, and people searching for a connection between their food and the environment.

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The butternut squash used for our Butternut Sage Primo was planted with the help of the Sustainable Agriculture Collaborative (SAgE), a collaborative between Washington State UniversityEdmonds Community College, Skagit Valley College, Seattle Central College, and the National Science Foundation that is used to study sustainable agriculture in Western Washington. Viva Farms used the vegetable as a learning tool for students and farmers on how to find buyers for produce and grow at a larger scale. They sold over 3,000 pounds of butternut squash to Charlie's Produce, a local food distribution company, and Charlie’s Produce delivered that squash to us.

“We're always on the lookout for restaurants, grocery stores and food processors dedicated to supporting local food for our wholesale program,” adds Shannon. “The partnership between these three organizations [Viva Farms, Charlie’s Produce and Pagliacci Pizza] is a good example of how local food can be regionally distributed.”

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We roasted up the squash, layered it with Foraged & Found Edibles chanterelles, La Quercia prosciutto, mozzarella, Fontina and sage over olive oil, and knew we had a winning pizza. You can get a taste of this primo pie through December 23 and find it on our pizza-by-the-slice bars this Thursday!