Seeds of Success

Seeds of Success Savings Incentive Program

2012 Application period closed 

Faced with an aging farming population, rising demand for local food, and scarcity of opportunity in rural communities, there is a national effort to support beginning farmers and ranchers through the asset building. Individual development account (IDA) programs combine rural direct assistance with job creation and business development to help grow the next generation of farmers. Washington is one of ten states taking part in a three year pilot effort to help beginning farmers and ranchers get a boost, and Slow Money Northwest has teamed up with Cascade Harvest Coalition to lead this effort in the Pacific Northwest. This program, called Seeds of Success, begins in February 2013.

While the savings match money does help give beginning farmers and ranchers a boost, the keys to success for IDA programs are the business development training and community resources that accompany it. Therefore, SMNW has reached out to organizations like Seattle Tilth, Enterprise for Equity, Sustainable Connections, and Viva Farms, that are already running technical assistance programs for beginning farmers and ranchers. Enhancing their programs with a savings match IDA encourages participation in the program as well as providing hard assets to support new agricultural entrepreneurs. Donors who provide the match funding know that their donations will be directed at those who are most motivated and dedicated to growing their business. Whether their social goals are the creation of new businesses or supporting local food production, this program provides a solid, targeted benefits. To discuss sponsorship opportunities for pilot phase or ongoing support for Seeds of Success, please contact Japhet Koteen, SMNW Project Manager.

Program Details: Beginning farmers and ranchers who meet program requirements can get up up to $5,000 in savings match funds over 2 years. These funds can be used to purchase equipment or livestock for your farming operation, or to make a down payment on farmland. To qualify for match funding program participants must be part of a farm business training program, incubator, or internship which includes a minimum level of financial literacy and business development training. In addition, participants will check in with the program manager on a quarterly basis and take part in the evaluation efforts. Apply online or download an application form here.

Applicants for the initial pilot year will be selected based on a series factors including diversity of approaches to farming, proximity to other applicants and educational partners, scale of financial need, and readiness and ability to save for business expansion.