Farming for the Future: Cultivating the Next Generation of Farmers

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2003: $145,800.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $14,580.00
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Brad Gaolach
Washington State University Extension
Dr. Marcia Ostrom
School of Environment, Washington State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, potatoes, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Fruits: apples, grapes, peaches, plums, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), lentils, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, rutabagas, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: herbs, ornamentals
  • Animals: bovine, poultry, goats, rabbits, swine, sheep
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: free-range, manure management, grazing - multispecies, pasture fertility, preventive practices, grazing - rotational, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: continuous cropping, cover crops, intercropping, multiple cropping, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers, relay cropping, strip tillage, conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, agricultural finance
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, hedgerows, indicators, soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, biorational pesticides, botanical pesticides, chemical control, competition, compost extracts, cultural control, disease vectors, economic threshold, flame, genetic resistance, integrated pest management, mulches - killed, mulches - living, physical control, prevention, row covers (for pests), trap crops, traps, mulching - vegetative, weather monitoring
  • Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, composting, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life


    Agriculture is far from going extinct in Western Washington State’s urbanizing environment. Instead, a new variety of farmer and farming is evolving. Increasingly, Farmers are finding unique ways to succeed on small acreages by selling directly to consumers using a variety of methods. Many farmers adapting to the urban environment did not have an agricultural background nor formal agricultural training. Our Farming for the Future project explored and provided educational curricula to help new farmers become successful in this unique production and market place.

    Developing and implementing a new curricula we have termed “Cultivating Success,” this project supported the establishment and execution of new farmer courses in five Western Washington counties. A total of 213 students completed the Sustainable Small Farming and Ranching courses during the fall semesters of 2003 through 2006, while180 students completed the Agricultural Entrepreneurship and Business Planning courses through the spring semesters of 2004 through 2007.The third course in the series piloted approaches to on-farm internships and mentorships using a variety of models from traditional internships, to mentorships matching student to farmer, to developing an on-farm classroom supported by experienced farmers. Finally, curricula were adapted to meet the needs of Latino and Hmong farming communities. Through the guidance and expertise of bi-lingual, bi-cultural community liaisons, curricula were developed and introduced using means appropriate to the culture and learning levels. Latino farmers were successful and eager to come to classroom structured settings while Hmong farmers responded most positively to hands-on and issue-based learning. Over 100 Latino farmers completed both courses while representatives from approximately 80% of the 100 Hmong farms we have identified have participated in at least one product or issues-based program.

    Project objectives:

    1. Develop and offer a WSU course that provides an overview of sustainable, small acreage farming systems for beginning and transitioning farmers.
    2. Develop and offer a WSU course that assists new and existing small-scale farmers in developing a business plan.
    3. Develop and offer an on-farm, for credit, internship program for students that have completed the two classroom courses described above.
    4. Develop and refine the three-part course series described above for East Asian and Latino immigrant farmers and aspiring farmers.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.