Farm business planning course starts statewide in January

cultivating-success-logo-200EVERETT, Wash. – “Buying local” is among more people’s New Year’s resolutions. Farmers can capture a share of this trend by gaining skills in business planning and direct marketing.

Those skills and more will be taught in the Washington State University Extension course, “Cultivating Success: Agricultural Entrepreneurship and Farm Business Planning,” on Tuesday evenings 6-9 p.m. Jan. 14-April 1, plus three Saturday seminars.

Growing organic greenhouse tomatoes can be profitable, but only if they are sold at a price that covers costs and profit. Creating a farm business plan helps farmers meet that goal. (Photo by Kate Halstead, WSU Extension)

For the first time, the course will be simulcast between two Puget Sound locations so more students can participate closer to home. These will be at WSU Snohomish County Extension’s Cougar Auditorium, McCollum Park, 600 128th St SE, Everett, and WSU Puyallup’s Chicona Conference Room, 2606 W. Pioneer, Puyallup, Wash.

The same updated curriculum will be offered in other locations at various times around the state. For a listing, visit

Class size is limited and pre-paid registration is required. Cost is $275 for the Everett location and $250 for the Puyallup location. To register, visit (Everett) or (Puyallup) to use your credit card or download the form at and mail with a check.

WSU Extension partners in the course are the WSU Small Farms Team, Snohomish Conservation District and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Course speakers include bankers, business professionals and successful farm owners with a special emphasis on the financial and legal issues unique to farm-based businesses. Participants are guided in developing a business plan they can use to help finance and guide a new enterprise or expand an existing business.

“By the end of the course I had a farm business plan that I could take to the bank,” said one recent participant. “The opportunity to evaluate my enterprise and make informed decisions is invaluable,” said another. “After all, the best place to make mistakes is on paper.”

The Puget Sound course facilitator will be Angus beef rancher Holly Thompson. She has worked for Northwest Farm Credit Services as a loan officer and the Nestle Regional Training Center at Carnation Farm as public relations and conference center manager. She recently completed a master’s degree in agriculture education through WSU and also holds a bachelor’s degree from WSU in animal science and agriculture economics.

For more information on the course, contact Holly Thompson at 425-357-6022 or For help with registration, contact Karie Christensen at 425-357-6039 or



Andrew Corbin, WSU Extension educator, 425-357-6012,

Kate Halstead, WSU Extension, 360-794-6081,