South Whidbey farmers utilize program to start Deep Harvest

Nathaniel Talbot and Annie Jesperson show the strawberries they are growing at Deep Harvest Farm

Nathaniel Talbot and Annie Jesperson started from square one.

The pair of farmers spent the past couple of years gaining the skills and finding the land to get their farm, Deep Harvest Farm, off the ground.

After studying for several years at the farmer trainer center operating at the Greenbank Farm, they leased property on South Whidbey Island. They grow crops on 3 acres of land with hopes of someday finding a bigger farm.

“It was a timely match,” Talbot said of finding the property to farm. “They were hoping someone would maintain the fields.” Talbot and Jesperson grow strawberries, salad greens, vegetables, seed crops and more from a plot of land located near Bayview.

They started a winter Community Supported Agriculture and sell their crops at the Bayview Restaurant and the Star Store.

Talbot and Jesperson started their path to becoming farmers about three years ago. Back then, they lived in Portland. Talbot worked in watershed restoration and Jesperson was a social worker.

While in Portland, they cultivated an interest in gardening and learned they wanted to change their careers to agriculture. The duo wanted to get some training and learned about Greenbank Farm’s training center through the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, which had a listing of the Central Whidbey-based program.

“We wanted some place where we could learn business skills in addition to growing skills,” Jesperson said.

They spent the first year as students at the training center.

During the second year, they worked at the farm as field assistants and they were responsible for a half acre of land where they farmed.

While at the Greenbank Farm, Talbot started a project where he developed organic seeds, which is an item that is in short supply for people interested in growing certified organic crops. He continues to grow seed crops.

The time at the center also gave them time to gather money needed to buy equipment and tools, which they didn’t have when they moved to Whidbey. To help earn money, they worked odd jobs and helped at various farms on Central Whidbey Island.

Talbot said they needed about a $10,000 investment to purchase the tools, greenhouses, used tractor, plow and other supplies.

They said they are debt free. Deep Harvest Farm is currently offering a summer CSA program, which started in June and goes through September.

A winter CSA program starts in October.

They also grow produce for Good Cheer Food Bank. The couple is trying to find a more permanent home for their farm.

They are hoping to find 10-to-20 acres of farmland on the south end of Whidbey Island.

“We would really like to stay on Whidbey Island,” Jesperson said.

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