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Marketing Your Farm Business

Marketing Your Farm Business

Farmers, producers, processors! Come one, come all!

Even if your business isn’t quite off the ground, you´re welcome to attend

Marketing Your Farm Business is 4th in a series of monthly classes in the ¨Cultivating Success¨ curriculum for farmers and food businesses working within our local food system. It’s going to be a great class!

You´ll learn:

How can you differentiate yourself from the pack? What’s your secret sauce?

How do you develop a niche product or market?

What´s your ¨brand¨?

How do you know if your marketing efforts are successful?

When: October 16 @ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Where: Olympic College, Poulsbo, Room 219

Two top notch marketing professionals will be sharing their knowledge with you:

Stuart Walton, local business entrepreneur and business mentor will share tips and tricks for cost conscious and impactful use of traditional marketing techniques.

Jeffrey Hora, owner of Social Sapiens, social media strategy and marketing firm, will share how to effectively engage social media to grow your customer base and increase sales.

This class, and the Cultivating Success series, is presented by WSU Kitsap Extension, together with the Farm Services Agency and Kitsap Community & Agricultural Alliance, with generous sponsorship from the Olympic College Foundation.

Register at:

Day-of-class registration permitted on a space-available basis; cash/check payment only.
Light refreshments served, but please bring a sack dinner.

WSU Extension programs and employment are available to all without discrimination. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local WSU Extension office. Reasonable accommodations will be made for persons with disabilities and special needs who contact Laura Ryser at 345 6th Street, Suite 550, Bremerton, WA 98337 360-337-7157 ext. 7281 or  at least two weeks prior to any WSU  event

Is Farming Right for You?

Is Farming Right for You?

When: July 17 @ 4:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Where: Olympic College, Poulsbo

Sponsored by Farm Services Agency, WSU Extension and the Kitsap Community & Agricultural Alliance, Presented by Paul McClellan of Corvus Northwest with guest speakers.   We’ll learn from local farmers about their journey into farming, and discuss some predictors for farm business success. We’ll explore how clear goals, limits, and needs-determination drive good business decisions.   This class is the first in a series of monthly, local food systems courses for new and beginning farmers and producers. To learn about the series, visit   Doors and registration open at 3:30pm

Course fee $20;  3-course set $54; Full series $136

Register at 

Pre-event registration open through July 16 @10pm.

Day-of-class registration $25 permitted on a space-available basis; credit card payment only.

Light refreshments served, but please bring a sack lunch.

Corvus NW is a Kitsap-based consultancy helping local farms, food ventures, makers, and small enterprises manage their business for true sustainability and resilience.

County Updating Critical Areas Ordinance

County Updating Critical Areas Ordinance

County updating Critical Areas Ordinance

By Scott Hall, KCAA Director & Local Farmer

Kitsap County is currently undergoing a required review/update of the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO)

The CAO covers several topics, but the one that most directly affects agriculture on a continuing basis is wetlands.

The Kitsap County CAO has always included certain wetlands exemptions for agriculture. The exemptions are related to “existing and ongoing agriculture” on lands that contain wetlands. Generally, if land containing wetlands was used for farming at the time the CAO was enacted (early 1990’s), and has remained in agricultural use since that time, the normal CAO wetlands restrictions do not apply.

During the update process KCAA and many private individuals will be keeping a close eye on any proposed changes to the CAO that would affect agricultural use of lands that may contain wetlands. So far, the county has collected quite a few comments through the “electronic town hall” process.

County staff reviews all comments received, and several comments generated by members of KCAA and others have already resulted in modifications to the draft CAO. It is our intent to ensure the county does not make existing CAO exemptions subject to unreasonable conditions or additional requirements that conflict with the basic agricultural exemptions allowed under federal law.

There will be multiple opportunities to provide testimony, either in person or in writing at a number of public hearings related to the CAO update. Please keep yourselves informed about the CAO, and all it covers. Wetlands and agriculture are just one small, but important aspect of everything the CAO regulates.

New State Law Will Shield Agritourism From Lawsuits

New State Law Will Shield Agritourism From Lawsuits

New state law will shield agritourism from lawsuits

By Scott Hall, KCAA Director & Local Farmer

The Washington state legislature has passed a bill, ESSB 5808 that will shield practitioners of agritourism from lawsuits. It is expected to become law this legislative session, following the signature of the Governor.

The law will identify “agritourism professionals” as any person in the business of providing one or more agritourism activities, whether or not for compensation.

The new law will limit the liability of agrotourism professionals for injury, loss, damage or death of agritourism participants resulting exclusively from any of the inherent risks of agritoursm activities. The new law will bar lawsuits and the recovery of damages where the agritouism professional pleads the affirmative defense of assumption of the risk of agritourism activity by the participant.

Agritourism professionals must take several measures to limit their liability. Among them are avoiding acts that are grossly negligent, makes existing dangerous conditions known to participants, avoids allowing minors to engage in activities that are not reasonably age appropriate, avoids allowing participants to engage in agritourism activities while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and must place warning signs with specific warning language at the locations identified in the law.

The new law provides the wording that must be contained on the warning notice signs, the size and coloring of the lettering, and the locations where the signs must be posted.

Failure to comply with the requirements concerning warning signs and notices will prohibit an agritourism professional from invoking the privilege of immunity under this law, and failure to post signs and notices may be introduced as evidence in any claim for damages.

Basic Accounting Workshop For Farmers

Basic Accounting Workshop For Farmers

Join Kitsap Community & Agricultural Alliance (KCAA) along with Legacy Accounting and WSU Regional Small Farms Program as we delve into basic accounting for farmers.

What the workshop will cover:

– Why bother tracking Income and Expenses?
– The Financial Statements:  Income Statement, Cash Flow and
Balance Sheet
– Basic Accounting Concepts
– Developing a Bookkeeping System – spreadsheets vs. an accounting program
– Pricing, Budgeting, and Forecasting for Profitability

When: Monday, December 5th, 2016 from 5:30pm – 7:30pm.
Where: Norm Dicks Government Building (345 6th St., Bremerton WA)

To RSVP: This is a FREE educational workshop. To reserve your seat please visit our Brown Paper Ticket event site:

Refreshments and snacks will be provided courtesy of KCAA’s board of directors.

Presented by: Peggy Hall, Legacy Accounting & Software Training

Sponsored by: Kitsap Community & Agricultural Alliance (KCAA) and WSU Regional Small Farms Program

We hope you will register and join us!

Questions? Contact us anytime at

Food Hubs – Connecting Farmers & Consumers

Food Hubs – Connecting Farmers & Consumers

We want to help grow the pie! Please join KCAA and friends for a special interactive panel discussion centered on the exciting and brave new world of the local food hub model! The success of local farms depends upon creating and reaching new markets, both retail and institutional. Our panel of experts will discuss issues of particular importance to local farmers, producers, and other parties interested in growing and being a part of a thriving local-food model.

Guest Panel Includes:
Beth Robinette – a fourth-generation rancher in the Spokane area, and co-founded LINC Foods, a Spokane food hub connecting local farmers and producers and institutional consumers.

Roni Smith – Owner/operator of The Smithshyre, helped found Kitsap Fresh, Kitsap County’s online farmers market.

Laura Ryser – Kitsap County Community and Economic Development Specialist in the WSU Community and Economic Development Program Unit.

This discussion is FREE and promises practical information, insights, and inspiration for any farmer or producer in Kitsap County hoping to grow more, sell more, and connect more with consumers eager to access the rich resource of Kitsap-grown food and farm products. Please join us!

When: Sunday, September 25th from 3pm – 5pm
Where: Olympic College (1600 Chester Avenue) – Rotunda

Please reserve your FREE ticket at Brown Paper Tickets Event Site

Nominations For The 2016 Farmer/Farm Business Award Going on NOW!

Nominations For The 2016 Farmer/Farm Business Award Going on NOW!

Farm Business/Farmer of the Year nominations are going on now through September 16th.

Do you know a really great Kitsap Farmer?

The 2016 Farmer/Farm Business of the Year will be announced at the 8th Annual Kitsap Grown Harvest Dinner (KGHD) on Sunday, September 25th at Olympic College, Bremer Student Center.

Now is the time to nominate a Farmer that you think has had an outstanding year and deserves some recognition.  Maybe they have provided you with delicious local goodness throughout the year or perhaps been active in promoting agriculture in your area.  Anything YOU think makes a great Farmer.

Please send us your nominations to by September 16th. Don’t forget to stay tuned to Facebook and here on our website to start voting for your Farmer of the Year between Sept. 17th and 25th.  Then make sure to come on out to Olympic College and celebrate with us during this years dinner. Tickets are on sale now through Brown Paper Ticket at

Some additional things to consider when nominating:

1. Contributions that the farm business has made in the community as a whole.
2. The growth of farm business over the past year.
3. Contributions to the furtherance and advocacy of farming and agriculture in Kitsap County.
4. Past history of farm activities.

Thank you in advance and we look forward to seeing you at the 8th Annual KGHD to celebrate the winner!

Farm Profile – Sagging Fence Farm

Farm Profile – Sagging Fence Farm

Interview conducted by KCAA Board Member Elizabeth Hoffman

Sagging Fence is a small scale goat dairy operation owned by Juli and Bob Fisher out of Port Orchard, WA. They currently have a closed herd of seventeen rambunctious Nubian dairy goats. Their main market product is a Farmstead Aged Goat Milk Cheese that they distribute to local restaurants, shops, and sell personally every Saturday at the Port Orchard Farmers Market.

Goat 1

Did you grow up on a farm?

Actually both Bob and I were raised in cities. I was born in Denver and my dad used to farm in North Dakota. Bob was raised in the Denver area. I did not want to be around a lot of people on a day to day basis. I like to garden and I like to have a lot of space and a lot of greenery around me. Bob does as well.

How did you start farming?

When I met Bob I was professionally landscaping and I tease him that when he saw my apartment, he was more interested in the fact that I had flowers drying than in me. He thought that was the coolest thing…. We started thinking about buying a place outside of the city because a lot of the perks of the city theatre, restaurants, etc., we didn’t do any of that stuff…Bob was a chef and I think he cooks better than most restaurants. He was always interested in growing things, right now he grows bonsai and he always wanted to be a farmer.

How did you start making cheese?

"Mama Cinnamon"
“Mama Cinnamon”

Bob used to cook professionally and he worked at places in Denver and in Seattle… He has always been interested in making and growing our own food. When we came out here we found a couple with some goats because he said he wanted to get ahold of some goat milk and make some cheese, and so we did. For a year or two we bought milk and made cheese, some was good and some was not. We made it in the kitchen and we got better at it and a neighbor down the road had two wethers (fixed male goat) Calvin and Hobbes who were for sale and they were going to be butchered so we bought them. Once we had success with those two we advanced to breeding our own milking goats. We started with two sisters we bought from people that we knew and since then all our goats have been born on our farm.

When did you decide to start marketing your cheese?

Sagging Fence Farm was licensed in January of 2014. About 8 years ago Bob said I think we should get licensed so we toured many different farms including Kurt Timmermeister’s farm on Vashon Island we toured Estrella farms and took a class with her. Bob makes all the cheese now, I used to, but now I help with all the milking. I am also comfortable doing a lot of the hands on things with the goats, my undergrad was in microbiology and I worked in a lab for many years.

What was your biggest hurdle starting as a goat dairy?

Goat 3
“Good morning from Sagging Fence”

We didn’t really start selling right away until we had insurance and because we don’t pasteurize it is difficult to get insurance. And we were surprised by that big stumbling block.

Bob has been working on the recipe, making it for ten years so he has been learning how to keep the quality uniform even though the milk changes throughout their cycle. We make the soft cheese as well but it is not aged so we cannot sell it.

Have you seen a change in the public’s attitude towards goat milk since you started?

Some people can tolerate it better because the protein molecules in goat’s milk are already broken down somewhat which lends itself to goat milk being naturally homogenized, it does not separate in the fridge. The only issue then is if you want to make goat milk butter you have to have a cream separator. One of the big differences with goat milk is it is quite rich because it is whole milk. Most people don’t drink whole milk anymore. A lot of people have issues with lactose. Now why there is more of that going on is a different story.

We drink strictly goat milk and have now for many years. When we are in a position where we have to buy cow’s milk we have noticed that it takes a few days to get used to the taste… A lot of people say that I don’t like goat cheese/milk because it tastes “goaty”. Well we have found that once you heat the milk that flavor comes out. I believe Pasteurization adds to that flavor.

How do you differ from other goat dairy’s? What is the philosophy behind Sagging Fence Farm?

Goat 4
5 Day old kid – “Plum”

We have a closed herd meaning we do not freshen every year and all goats are born on the farm. We do not take our goats off site except to breed. We are very soft on our animals, we brought them into this world they are our responsibility. I don’t treat them like stock. We retire our goats when they are too old to produce milk, they stick around and live in the pasture. We keep wethers on site and they have their own space. Typically, on other farms they are butchered at around 6 months to a year. We find good homes for our wethers where they will not be butchered. Our last wethers were sold as brush eaters.

I think if we have a philosophy it is that I never want to get too big that I don’t know each goat individually and when you get to having fifty or a hundred, like other cheese farms in the United States and France. There were huge herds hundreds of goats and there is no way to know each of them. I really enjoy knowing them individually, each of them has a personality and I like getting to know them… I don’t like all of them (laughs)..but they all have a personality.

What advice do you have for people who want to start farming?

And I think a lot of people are looking back to farming traditions to self-sustain their household…I enjoy being more self-sustaining not having to buy eggs, milk, vegetables. I think you can but it could be a rude awakening for some people. It takes a lot of work physically and also time. You have to want to live in this environment and it can’t just be “I want to have a farm because I want to grow my own food” and I know people who have down that or said that. Realistically, you don’t have much of a social life, you don’t do much beyond your farm. It takes a lot and it takes money. When we wanted to start the dairy everyone told us it was going to be $100,000, we did it for less but it took planning and five years of time. We designed our own dairy and poured the foundations ourselves. We started in the kitchen trying things out and I would advise others if they wanted to start a dairy or making specialty products that you start small in the kitchen and do that for a while, even years, just to see if you like it. I think you should try it in small pieces first, we started with a garden and then a farm and finally it evolved into a dairy.

Sagging Fence Farm’s Farmstead Aged Raw Goat Milk Cheese can be found at the following locations:

Goat 5Kurt Farm Shop
1424 11th Ave Ste C2, Seattle, WA 98122

Bay Street Bistro: featured ingredient on Northwest Cheese Plate
834 Bay Street, Port Orchard, WA 98366

103 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

Port Orchard Farmer’s Market
Saturdays 9-3pm.

Local Producer Profile – Karen Olson, Blackjack Valley Farm

Local Producer Profile – Karen Olson, Blackjack Valley Farm

Karen Olson of Blackjack Valley Farm in Port Orchard is nothing if not an energizer bunny. Over the last 6 1/2 years she has transformed her little patch of heaven in Port Orchard into the go-to place for farm-raised beef, pork, and poultry, on top of the constant flow of raw milk and high quality eggs she supplies. So it was no big surprise when Karen was named KCAA’s Farmer of the Year for 2015. Except to her. “I was surprised since I don’t participate in many community farming groups. It was nice to know people realized and acknowledged how hard I work.”

“She is extremely energetic and tough to keep up with,” says Doug Millard, KCAA board member. “Karen is deeply dedicated and concerned about her animals and her farming. She is all for local production of farm protein products and has the best farm store I have visited.”

Karen traces her love of agriculture to her childhood. “My father was in the Navy, having grown up in Philadelphia, and he was stationed at PSNS in 1967. He decided he wanted to raise my sister and me here, not in the city. So he bought some property and we learned about farming as a family.”

An indication of Karen’s support of local farming is her current effort to develop a USDA/Custom Exempt Slaughterhouse and Processing Facility here in Port Orchard.  “I’m hoping to create a 3,600 sq. feet facility, located in Port Orchard, ” she explains. “We’re currently in permitting, and I have the deposit down on a steel building.” She plans to also offer transport services of livestock for those who cannot haul to site, and says the site will also have a retail front to market local meats and other seasonal products.

Karen says that two major roadblocks are financing and lack of local community (farmer) support. But she is applying for several USDA grants to get things rolling. And she sees herself completing the circle that her childhood began. “We have a lot of families in Kitsap County. Many that come for a short period of time with the military. I think it is great to provide those kids with farm fresh foods and visits to a farm.”

For more information on Karen’s efforts and to help fund this project please visit:

Are You A Local Farmer? Read On…….

Are You A Local Farmer? Read On…….

Are you a local farmer? Would you like to have your farm business listed in the 2016 Cascade Harvest Coalitions Farm Guide?

The Kitsap Community & Agricultural Alliance would like to purchase ad space this year and list local farms for FREE. We can only move forward on this project if we know how many people are willing to take part. Farms would be able to list farm name and one additional piece of info (some examples include website address, phone, physical address, etc). In addition to the printed guide, KCAA will be designing and uploading an interactive map on our website with hotlinks to each farm that takes part in the project.

If your farm is interested in taking part we need to hear from you by February 23rd. Please reply directly to if you would like to be added to our list of possible participants.
We hope to hear from you soon!
~ KCAA Board of Directors
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