In 2016 an agriculture producer needs assessment identified several concerns farmers have with marketing and marketing infrastructure.

Among the top ten needs areas identified in this assessment, ‘Marketing’ and ‘Capital, Infrastructure and Equipment’ were among the top four concern areas. Marketing needs relate to what can be considered “social barriers” to expanding market access, while the capital/ infrastructure/ equipment can be considered physical barriers. Removing social and physical barriers to market access are a primary needs area for farmers in the region. Physical barriers include: equipment needs, processing and storage facilities, feed grain and seed processing, and variety trialing. Social barriers include consumer perceptions about cost, loss of market share for local farmers, collective marketing, and marketing skills. Full needs assessment draft report available here.

For information on the steering committee addressing the need for value-added processing capacity in the region, please email us.

Could organic frozen processed vegetables expand farmland acreage and open a profitable market in Thurston County?

As many folks know, the Thurston County extension office conducted a farmer needs assessment over the past year. That report offered useful insight into producer needs, among them dry, refrigerated and frozen storage, food processing facilities, grain mill capacity, a warehouse for aggregation, distribution and collective marketing, and others. Another concern raised by farmers was loss of farmland in the County.

Could food system infrastructure like a food processing facility help reverse farmland loss?

Read the full story here: Thurston farmland & vegetable processing

From Ground to Glass: Evaluation of unique barley varieties for western Washington craft malting, brewing and distilling

Farmers in western Washington are interested in integrating cereal crops into farm operations to interrupt pest and disease cycles in vegetable-intensive systems, and additional opportunities for value-added feed, brewing and distilling grain. This study will utilize a breeder-extension-farmer-craft brewer/distiller collaboration to evaluate barley varieties for organic production and value-added processing. We will test for unique flavors among the diverse germplasm in the WSU barley breeding program that could be of interest to craft maltsters, brewers and distillers. Nine barley breeding lines and/or varieties will be evaluated for valuable agronomic and end-use characteristics important to maltsters, brewers, distillers and farmers. This project supports biologically intensive crop rotations such as grain-vegetable integration, evaluates barley production and end-use characteristics in organic production, and will hopefully result in novel marketing opportunities, provide ecological crop rotation tools for managing pest populations, and spur social engagement between farmers, processors, and consumers. Project impacts include the potential for immediate release of new WSU barley varieties for the first time specifically suited to the needs of craft brewers, micro-maltsters, and local distillers. We hope to provide farmers with agronomic information about locally-adapted varieties when integrating barley into crop rotations. Additionally, if the 2017 growing season is successful, whiskey will be evaluated at sensory evaluation events, demonstrating to decision-makers, processors, farmers, and consumers the potential of regional organic barley production for value-added markets.

For a full project decription click here: WSU BIOAg proposal – 17.05.11_for website


The WSU Small Farms Team maintains an extensive list of resources to assist agricultural producers, including on: farm business planning and direct marketing.

Select WSU Extension publications are listed below. Additional information is available through State and Federal resources.

Farmer-to-Consumer_MarketinFarmer-to-Consumer Marketing, PNW Extension Manual PNW201E

Do you want to start a direct-farm marketing operation? This bulletin looks at creating a venture to meet the grower’s needs within the framework of the consumer’s desires. Topics focus on basic evaluation and goal determination that suggest methods to match the seller’s abilities and personality with the project. Presents advantages and disadvantages of direct marketing efforts such as roadside stands, farmers markets, and rent-a-tree.

cropinsuranceoptionsCrop Insurance Options for Specialty, Diversified, and Organic Farmers, by Jeff Schahczenski, NCAT

This publication reviews federally subsidized crop insurance, with special attention to options available to specialty, diversified, and organic farmers. Generally, the greater the diversity or specialization of the crops and livestock farmers grow, the more difficult it can be for them to obtain insurance that fully covers the value and risks of their production. This publication gives several examples of using alternative crop-insurance policies that can offer some degree of protection from significant market-price changes and the multiple perils of farming that can impact yield. It gives special attention to understanding whole-farm revenue insurance options, which may be of particular interest to growers of diverse specialty and organic crops and livestock.

MarketingAlternativesFreshPMarketing Alternatives for Fresh Produce, PNW Extension Manual PNW0241E

New marketing opportunities for Pacific Northwest vegetable and fruit growers are exciting and inventive. Increased public desire for nutritious and minimally processed food grown locally and sustainably translates into farmer-to-consumer sales through community-supported agriculture, farmers’ markets, agritourism, the Internet, restaurants, U-pick, and roadside stands. This updated publication also outlines grower options for selling wholesale; Idaho, Oregon, and Washington regulations for organic certification; transportation alternatives and their respective issues; and how to calculate postharvest costs and returns.


WSDA Farm Widsom: Managing Risk on Small Farms Video Series

The farmers featured in this series, two of which are located in Thurston County, are leaders in utilizing innovative and viable business and production practices to manage risk, and to build and maintain sustainable small-scale farms. The series includes 11 videos made possible by 2 consecutive Community Outreach and Assistance Partnership grants from USDA Risk Management Agency.

In Poultry Processing Rental Equipment, Colin Barricklow, Kirsop Farm in Tumwater, WA shares his diversified farm’s practices for cultivating row crops and small-scale poultry production for direct to consumer sales of up to 1,000 birds allowed for in the WSDA Special Poultry Permit. Food safety, animal husbandry, and predator control are essential components of Kirsop’s whole farm system.

Kirsten Workman of WSU Mason County Extension walks tour participants through on-farm poultry processing including how to use rental killing cones, scalder, and plucker that Kirsop uses in their commercial production.

Flood Preparation and Recovery Video

Are you farming in a flood plain? “Assume it will happen every year”, even if it’s called a hundred-year event. This is the advice given by farmer Jennifer Belknap of Rising River Farm in Rochester, WA in the  after having been through several major floods on her farm. The aftermath can be less damaging to your farm’s bottom line if you have adequate flood insurance and a well laid-out plan that includes creating storage for equipment, livestock, and crops that will protect them from floodwaters.

Commercial agricultural producers:

contact the WSU Thurston
County Extension for a referral
regarding any questions about
plants, edible or ornamental (360) 867-2189.


refer to the Master Gardener Clinic
(360) 867-2163, or to the

Native Plant Salvage Project
(360) 867-2164.