Winner: Viva Farms
Nonprofit partnership with WSU Extension recruiting and training sustainable farmers.
GREEN ACTIONS In April 2009, this nonprofit launched the state’s first English/Spanish sustainable small business incubator, offering beginning and Latino farmers lessons in organic and ecological farming as well as access to land, tractors, greenhouses and cold storage. The goal: to train a new generation of sustainability-sensitive farmers to replace the many farmers expected to retire in the coming decade.
RESULTS The incubator lowers the startup costs of farming from between $10,000 and $30,000 to just $5,000, helping eliminate money as an obstacle for aspiring farmers. More than 90 people have completed Viva Farms’ bilingual farming, ranching and business planning courses. Eight new farms have been successfully launched at Viva Farms’ 33-acre farm incubator, with many others established throughout King, Skagit and Whatcom counties. One important result: greater availability of organic, locally grown fruits and vegetables while using less water and protecting soil quality.
Runner Up: Wilridge Winery & Vineyard
Seattle’s oldest continuously operated winery opened its own vineyard in 2007 near Yakima.
GREEN ACTIONS Sixty percent of the carbon footprint of winemaking comes from the bottle. In an effort to reduce that impact, Wilridge Winery offers refillable bottles and kegs. The winery has long sourced grapes from single-vineyard sites in Washington and Oregon; its own vineyard operation is solar powered, organic and certified biodynamic.
RESULTS In addition to producing a hyperlocal product for Seattleites, Wilridge has cut down on carbon emissions with its refillable containers. The company’s vineyard has minimized the environmental impacts of producing wine by returning all waste products to the soil.