Portland, Ore. — November 16, 2019 — Mid-size producers from Northern California to Alaska are picking up steam with the support of a one-of-its kind “Ag of the Middle” (AOTM) Accelerator. A project of the nonprofit Ecotrust, the AOTM Accelerator, now welcoming its second cohort of participants into the two-year program, is designed to deliver the support producers need to grow their businesses and help make local food more accessible to more people.
With Ecotrust’s support, five participants in the AOTM Accelerator pilot program secured a total of more than $1 million in USDA Value Added Producer Grants. And this year, a dynamic new group of 20 farmers, ranchers and fishers will participate in trainings and networking designed to help them grow, while maintaining their commitments to local markets and production practices that improve soil and ocean health.
Now 34 producers strong, the AOTM Accelerator includes farmers and ranchers from Northern California, Oregon and Washington, who collectively manage 8,283 acres. Also including a significant number of fishermen from the Pacific Northwest coast and Alaska, the group collectively represents approximately $6.5 million in gross revenue as of 2017. Together, they create notable potential to bolster a consistent supply of nutrient-dense, fresh, local food for the Pacific Northwest region.
“These are the changemakers,” said Maia Hardy, Ecotrust’s new Ag of the Middle Program Manager. “Successful mid-sized producers contribute to stable regional food supply, local economic development, and land-based carbon recapture. When they grow, the positive impacts do as well.”
The USDA Value Added Producer Grants are an important source of funding that helps Ag of the Middle producers take on the financial risk of scaling up. With support from Ecotrust, members of the pilot AOTM Accelerator cohort — By George Farm, 6 Ranch, Tre-Fin, Nehalem River Ranch, and Marion Acres — secured awards totaling $1 million from the USDA to execute projects such as developing marketing plans and expanding staff.
“It was huge for me to meet other farmers and ranchers and learn about our similar issues,” said pilot cohort member and Alaska-based fisherman Erica Madison of Madison Salmon Co. “The fishing part is the best part and the easy part. Yes, it’s hard work, but it’s just you and the fish, then comes everything else, which is really difficult. How do you get a customer base? Where can you decrease spending? Answers to all of those questions came out of the Accelerator.”
As the pilot cohort enters into their second year of the program, the Ag of the Middle Accelerator continues to grow, with the incoming 2018-2019 cohort better reflecting the diversity of Northwest agriculture. Sixty-four percent of the new crop of Accelerator participants are women-owned businesses, and a Native-owned business also joining the group.
New AOTM Accelerator members are:
Blue Siren Shellfish
Hand-harvested along the northern Oregon coast, Blue Siren Shellfish collects wild Oregon shellfish, crab, and other coastal delicacies and sells them directly to restaurants and retail shops, as well as other licensed dealers. Products are caught-to-order and are featured in local businesses, at Portland-area restaurants, and regional retailers.
Boldly Grown Farm
Growing on a plot of land with Viva Farms, an incubator farm in Washington’s Skagit Valley, Boldly Grown Farm specializes in growing certified organic, wholesale quantities of fall and winter crops.
California Heritage Farms
Founded in 2012, owned by two families, California Heritage Farms strives to deliver the highest quality pasture-raised pork that is free from GMOs, hormones, and antibiotics. They manage their land in Siskiyou County in a way that promotes healthy soil and rivers.
Casad Family Farms
Casad Family Farms uses organic and biodynamic principles to sustainably steward 85 acres in Jefferson County, Ore. This multi-generational farm is focused on wholesale vegetables and root crops — including potatoes for Deschutes Brewery in Bend!
Deeply rooted, the Anderson family has been grazing turkeys on pasture in the Champoeg area since 1856. With an on-farm processing facility, Champoeg Farm sells pastured poultry direct to Portland-area buyers.
Drifters Fish is a Community Supported Fishery from Cordova, Alaska, specializing in wild Copper River sockeye salmon. Each fish is hand-picked and delivered by Nelly and Michael Hand, alongside a collective of young fishermen, ensuring quality from sea to table.
Duna Fisheries, LLC
Based in Port Townsend, Wash., Duna Fisheries sells the highest quality troll-caught, frozen-at-sea salmon from Alaska and Washington. They supply their superior product directly to Seattle-area chefs, Community Supported Fishery businesses, and other wholesale channels.
Fair Valley Farm
Located in Eugene, Ore., Fair Valley Farm raises pastured poultry, pork, beef, and lamb. They use rotational grazing techniques that results in delicious, healthy meat that is sold both through Community Supported Agriculture, direct to consumer, and wholesale channels.
Named after a sweet-salty type of smoked salmon, Indian Candy is owned and operated by a Yakama tribal member using traditional techniques that date back hundreds of years. Indian Candy supplies fresh and smoked wild-caught salmon and steelhead from the Columbia River to tribal members, Seattle-area chefs, and directly to consumers.
Kenai Red Fish Company
Owned and operated by the Benson family, Kenai Red Fish Company is a Community Supported Fishery based in Portland, Ore., that brings the highest quality, fresh-frozen, sustainably harvested sockeye salmon to the tables of those who seek to know their fishermen.
Kodiak Ocean Bounty
Located in Kodiak, Alaska, Kodiak Ocean Bounty works to create a diversified mariculture farm growing oysters and kelp, with an interest in growing and diversifying further into raising sea cucumbers, shrimp, and scallops.
A diversified farm and ranch located in Hamilton City, Calif., Massa Organics is a 4th-generation farm integrating pigs and sheep into almond orchards and rice fields. They sell their certified organic brown rice, almonds, pork, and lamb at farmers’ markets and through wholesale channels.
Misty Meadows Farm & Ranch
A small family farm located in Everson, Wash., Misty Meadows Farm & Ranch grows pasture-based poultry. Their certified organic eggs, chickens, turkeys, and ducks can be found across Western Washington in grocery stores, restaurants, and farmers’ markets.
Naked Acres Farm
A 75-acre diversified farm in beautiful Beavercreek, Ore., Naked Acres Farm raises a variety of crops and animals including: eggs, chickens, beef, lamb, pigs, goats, and seasonal produce. Whether for meat, eggs, or milk, restorative agriculture is paramount to Naked Acres Farm.
Pure Eire Dairy
Featuring 100% grass-fed milk, Pure Eire Dairy was born out of a desire to control milk from the ground up. A “couple of farm kids raising a couple of farm kids,” the Smith family has been in the dairy business their entire lives.
Schoolhouse Fish Co.
Schoolhouse Fish Co. is a sustainable seafood business shipping fish direct to people around Alaska, Hawaii, and the lower 48. Part of a wave of Alaskan entrepreneurs crafting businesses based on values, Schoolhouse is doing their best to pay it forward for future generations of fish and fishing families.
Straight to the Plate
Stewards of the ocean, Straight to the Plate strives for quality and traceability. Selling through a variety of channels, including their own storefront, Straight to the Plate is bringing Alaskan sockeye salmon straight from their boat to plates around Alaska.
Tillamook Bay Seafoods
Fourth-generation fishermen, Tillamook Bay Seafoods harvests Dungeness crab, albacore tuna, and a variety of clams, while also operating as a seafood-buying station in Garibaldi, Ore. They are creating opportunities and building on vision for the community of Garibaldi to be a place where fishermen can receive a higher value for seafood products and the fishing industry thrives.
Ecotrust is powered by the vision of a world where people and nature thrive together. Since 1991, we have partnered with local communities from California to Alaska to build new ways of living and doing business. From forestry to finance, food access to green building, we work to advance social equity, economic opportunity, and environmental well-being. Together, we are making this place we live a home that we love. Learn more at ecotrust.org. Follow us @ecotrust