LB’S NOTE: Another reason yours truly loves living in Port Townsend and environs. Both this article and I are set more in the environs than in PT, but it’s the Port Townsend lifestyle that makes it all happen. Who’d a’guessed?
by Rachel Belle
On Whidbey Island, there is a school that teaches people how to become farmers. The Organic Farm School is a working farm that attracts students from all over the country who want to own their own farms, or make their living working on one.
Over the course of about six months, students spend five or six days a week, eight to 10 hours a day, learning everything they can about how to run a farm. It’s a serious program, not designed for backyard gardeners or hobbyists. They cover the economics:
“That’s definitely the biggest reason I came to this program,” said student Halle Salisbury. “The emphasis on personal business planning. I have no clue where to even begin even though I have the farm experience.”
They learn about the science of soil, how to grow crops and care for animals.
Organic Farm School’s executive director, Judy Feldman, says programs like theirs are essential.
“The average American farmer is 58 years old and there aren’t a lot of them,” Feldman said, as we walked by fields of corn. “Their access to land means that they typically have smaller farms rather than the bigger farms. So you can start to imagine that the amount of food that we can generate in this country is going to shift a bit.”
In a stroke of good timing, Edmonds’ Josh Christopher quit his job to start farm school just days before the pandemic shutdown.
“I’ve been a personal trainer for about 18 years and I’ve always wondered where I was going to get food that is ethical and treated right,” Christopher said.”So I started looking into raising my own food. I came over, took a tour, fell in love with it, and immediately tried to sign up….”