We are looking for interns to share with a local produce farm. That much is true.
We are looking for so much more.
In my secret heart of hearts (well, not so secret now, it’s on the interweb), I am looking for a successor team.
The farm could have closed. We have spent so much, accumulated so much debt, worked ourselves too unhealthily hard, but we made it. Our farm plan calls for the farm to break even year 3 and start making money year 4 (and on). We are on track. We did it. We have absorbed the losses and extra expenses caused by the extended 4-year start up. We are here. We have arrived. The farm can now start carrying itself. We just don’t have the steam to carry it forward – there are extenuating circumstances, but to be honest, that is not for interweb publishing.
Losing the farm would be more than sad. It would be sad, to be clear, but not just sad. Losing the farm would lose agricultural status for our property (more land out of farmland is never a good thing). The start-up and infrastructures costs would be nothing more than wasted effort and monies.
But still, closing the farm is an option on the table.
What my dream looks like though, is way different than a dusty, closed dairy.
My dream includes taking a team that wants desperately to have a micro-creamery, but can’t because of the huge capital investment. You see, we’ve already done it. We’ve built the dairy.
What we need it energy. Passion. Someone willing and excited about doing what we do to hand the reins over to.
So, interns. Sort of. That’s how we’re starting. With the right interns we hope to teach them, train them, mentor them, usher them into micro-creamery world. (Oh, and we would share them with a produce farm so they can learn about growing produce and maybe have a productive market garden too!)
With the right team we hope we can help them learn about running a small dairy. Then (shh… don’t tell), we hope we can have them run our dairy, so we can step back.
Okay, not really step back. For that first year after intern year I will be in full-fledged consultant/resource mode. Our farm will serve its original goal. It will become an incubator for others with dreams, but not resources.
Leasing land is commonplace for interns ready to graduate to their own produce farm. However, leasing a diary/creamery is all but unheard of in this country. We want to change that.
We want to offer an educational/intern/apprentice experience and the facility to expand the business. Maybe more farms will follow suit. Maybe we can be a trendsetter. I know not many are so willing to put their huge capital investment on the line, but we are that passionate about what we do and what we stand for. It is time for more people to put their money and assets where their mouths are, we aren’t extraordinary, we are simply choosing to live with integrity to our values/goals. Enough lip service. Support local agriculture by SUPPORTING local agriculture (if that’s too vague, yes, I mean with your money).
The goal is for the next 2-3 years that a hard working team and ultimately their interns, will work the dairy and create products and agriculture equity on Whidbey Island. At which point they will either be ready to move on to develop their “perfect” dairy (with less wasted expense than we had) and pass on the torch to a new team… or they will choose to stay in our little town and keep our little creamery producing amazing local dairy goods.
Do you know some hard working, committed folks that dream of being part of an amazing micro-creamery? Would they be interested in a little diary incubator?
Send them our way!
We have babies coming, we’re ready to take this year on… but we need their help, as much as they need our infrastructure. Let’s team up.