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New boss oversees budding farmers at Greenbank Farm
A life-long farmer will help people break into a career in agriculture.
Port Townsend farmer Sebastian Aguilar was recently named coordinator of the Greenbank Farm Training Center. He takes over for Anza Muenchow.
The training center at the Greenbank Farm educates a small class of about eight student in the nuts-and-bolts of organic farming and operating a farm business.
Aguilar has 13 years’ experience running farms. Most recently, he operated Frog Hill Farm on the Olympic Peninsula. Prior to that he set up a farm for the Sunfield Waldorf School in Chimicum.
He said he decided to take the position at the Greenbank Farm because of the educational aspect the training center provides.
“I’m excited to keep my hands in the dirt and expand my teaching role,” Aguilar said. When he operated farms, he always had apprentices on hand to pass on the knowledge.
Aguilar grew up in Santa Fe, N.M., and spent his summers gardening with his grandfather in France. He started farming full time when he was 20. Since then he has managed farms in New Mexico, Wisconsin and Washington, according to information provided by the Northwest Agriculture Business Center, which operates the Greenbank Farm Training Center.
A search committee comprised of officials from the Greenbank Farm, the Business Center and a local farmer made the selection. Aguilar began his duties as coordinator in November.
Maryon Attwood, project manager at the Northwest Agriculture Business Center, said the previous coordinator, Muenchow, wanted to devote more time to her farm based on South Whidbey.
The program farms nearly 10 acres of land located near the Greenbank Farm buildings. Last year, six students completed the course.
Aguilar said that the trainees will grow about 30 different types of vegetables and he hopes to plant berries and other perennials.
He is also exploring the possibility of partnering with the Organic Seed Alliance in Port Townsend to grow seed crops.
The equipment and facilities used for the training program is fairly basic, and needs to be upgraded. Organizers are buying a tractor and Aguilar hopes a greenhouse will be built.
In addition to training farmers, the program also sells produce at local farmers markets and offers a deal where people buy a share and get a bag of produce a week through the summer and early fall. A share costs $500 and in 2009, 50 people purchased shares.
Aguilar is looking for people to participate in the training program, which starts in March and goes through October.
There will be some additional help for the trainees. Selected people will receive and educational stipend. The training program is also partnering with Whidbey Island Share a Home to find housing for trainees who don’t live on Whidbey Island.
For more information on the training program or the CSA shares, contact Sebastian Aguilar at 360-222-3171.