Contributed photo — Student Peyton Cypress harvests radishes from the early spring. Cypress plans to take what he learned at Organic Farm School to the Midwest, where he grew up.

Organic Farm School excels in new digs

The Organic Farm School survived its first year at its new Maxwelton Valley campus, meeting both its financial and program goals, according to institution leaders.

Moving to a new location is always concerning, but the success bodes well for the future, said Judy Feldman, executive director of the Organic Farm School.

“Whenever you move farms, there are always challenges since you don’t know the microclimate, the soil, things like that,” Feldman said. “That being said, we met our production goals, we did well at the Redmond Farmer’s Market and our CSAs (community supported agriculture) were successful. I don’t think we could’ve predicted such a good first year.”

Students from the class of 2017 will discuss their experiences during their eight months on the island next week. A community discussion is slated for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6 at Langley United Methodist Church. Students will talk about their future plans and what they see in the future of food production, in addition to their personal experiences getting dirt under their fingernails in Maxwelton Valley.

The public is also invited to the school’s graduation ceremony at Bayview Hall on Thursday, Nov. 9. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the program begins at 7 p.m. Email judy@organicfarmschool.org to RSVP.

When the Organic Farm School moved last summer, there were certain financial requirements that had to be met, all of which were met, Feldman said. The landowners who lease the farmland to the school asked the institution to raise $100,000 during the school year to prove its financial stability, which the students and staff accomplished through their farm-to-doorstep CSA program and attendance at the Redmond Farmer’s Market.

The landowners also stipulated that the school should build up a $50,000 reserve by the end of the year, something the school was never able to do while located at Greenbank Farm. The school successfully raised the required funds, but Feldman adds it continues to look for donors.

“This is why we feel at home, the community is willing to invest in the future of the program,” Feldman said.

According to 21-year-old student Peyton Cypress, originally from the Milwaukee, Wis. area, the South Whidbey community played a large role in the program’s success. It’s something he plans to touch upon during the community discussion on Monday, in addition to what he’s taken away from his year on the farm.

South Whidbey served as an ideal place to learn small-scale sustainable farming techniques; it was somewhat foreign to him in Wisconsin, and he’s aiming to bring those skills home. He’s hoping to change the Midwest with what he’s learned.

“There needs to be a shift in the Midwest, and I’d rather go there myself to help make that shift,” Cypress said. “I want to increase the biodiversity of farms in the Midwest, step away from chemicals and not destroy the soil like the current food system does. The Organic Farm School gave me a broad base to to do that.”

Contributed photo — Student Nick Conard works in the farm school’s kale garden.

Contributed photo Student Nick Conard works in the farm school’s kale garden.

Contributed photo Student Nick Conard works in the farm school’s kale garden.

Contributed photo Student Peyton Cypress harvests radishes from the early spring. Cypress plans to take what he learned at Organic Farm School to the Midwest, where he grew up.

Contributed photo Student Peyton Cypress harvests radishes from the early spring. Cypress plans to take what he learned at Organic Farm School to the Midwest, where he grew up.

More in News

New education, training program for juvenile court

Island County Juvenile Court will soon start a pilot program aimed at… Continue reading

Paula Ludtke, SWHS teacher and choir director, sang a rendition of “Thanks for the Memories” to Chris Gibson to honor him for his five years of service as Foundation Board President. Photo provided. Photo by Laura Canby.
Schools foundation ends year with gala, awards

The South Whidbey Schools Foundation followed up its annual fundraising gala —… Continue reading

Expert says chief followed right protocol

David Marks’ arrest of suspect ‘exactly what we teach’

Photos by Whidbey Camano Land Trust
                                Taylor Schmuki, left, and Kyle Ostermick-Durkee, both part of the Whidbey Camano Land Trust’s stewardship team, study the plant life this spring in a newly protected forest on South Whidbey.
Conservation Buyer Saves a Whidbey Island Forest

By RON NEWBERRY Special to the Record Pat Powell has worked with… Continue reading

Sailor shoots man, himself

A Navy man shot another man and then himself in Oak Harbor… Continue reading

Trooper, ranger try to prevent man from jumping off bridge

A trooper with the Washington State Patrol and a ranger with State… Continue reading

Valetta Faye will perform at Ott & Murphy Wines in Langley.
Singing sensation comes to South Whidbey

Singing is her passion, music is her soul. That’s singer Valetta Faye’s… Continue reading

Shhh…it’s a surprise party for old-timer Bill Lanning

Friends, customers invited to celebrate former owner of Bill’s Feed Tack

Retail sales grew in Island County, Langley

New numbers released by the state Department of Revenue show that Island… Continue reading

Most Read