Savannah Flynn knows better than most how a dream can bear extraordinary fruit. With the help of mentors, leased ground, water, passion, and patience, she’s grown Flynn Farms and the Whatcom CSA Project from an idea to a powerful presence in the community.
Savannah’s journey to farming came from a deep desire to work for food security and hunger justice; she grows for food banks, hunger relief agencies, and food justice nonprofits, as well as to eager consumers and local retailers. But she didn’t start out in the farming industry. “I was in the [Army] service for six years,” she says. “I transferred over to Washington State, and when I got out I was finishing up going to school for biology at Western Washington University. They have a list of organizations and you can pick a category to volunteer or work for. I found a local horticulturist because I knew I wanted to work outside. I loved the soil science part of biology.”
Savannah worked for several small-scale producers in Whatcom County before getting connected with a bamboo farmer, who was a former officer in the Army. Since Savannah had been a sergeant, she was able to connect with him a way that others couldn’t necessarily understand. “He took me on in an unofficial mentorship,” she recalls. “For six seasons, I was the farm manager, and in the off-season, I would work for other farmers.”
Savannah gained experience and knowledge during these years. She also knew that she wanted to be part of an official incubator program, one which offered her a lease on a property and could help her move towards her dream of owning land and starting a community-oriented farm. That dream brought her to Cloud Mountain Farm Center and their incubator program.
“I didn’t know much about the farm world or community,” Savannah explains, “but Cheryl [of Cloud Mountain] and I knew each other on a personal level, and she helped me. I came to the incubator program, needing a logo and a website. I had been thinking about bamboo from July to October, and suddenly I had become a farmer of just veggies. When I moved to the incubator farm, I got a logo and a website and a webstore as a way for people to purchase veggies. I had a couple of grant supporters and buyers like the Community Food Coop. Now, I can send a Fresh Sheet every week, like a regular farm person! I’m just starting to figure all this out, and being in the incubator program I can ask so many questions.”
In 2021, Savannah went from being a direct market farmer to a wholesale supplier, providing the Community Food Co-Op with over 23 unique crops during the season including French breakfast radish, spring onions, and her personal favorite—lots of Tom Thumb popcorn. The Community Food Co-Op published a local farm feature on Flynn Farms last summer, where they rightfully commented, “one can’t underestimate Savannah’s single acre.”
Flynn Farms is now an established local presence with dedicated customers, , and Savannah recently applied to accept SNAP and EBT. “I can finally accept payments from people who use the organizations I’ve been donating to. I can sell directly to them.”
Flynn Farms was born with the desire to feed those who need it most. After three years in the incubator program, Savannah is ready to begin a new project to continue the work of supporting beginning farmers and nourishing all community members.
Savannah’s taken the first step by launching the Whatcom CSA Project, a community CSA that allows start-up farmers to participate in a CSA with low risk. “We’re highlighting diversity – that’s what’s wanted, since the market is flooded. It’s not certified organic, so can be sold for lower prices. We have three other farmers and producers who will be supplying. All of us benefit from this.” Flynn Farms is partnering with other women, LGBTQIA+, and minority-run farms to supply the collaborative and diversified CSA project. Shares are still available through Flynn Farms at flynnfarmsorganic.com.
Savannah and Flynn Farms are building community that is much needed in Whatcom County. “Farming is such an art,” Savannah explains. “It’s so cool to be around experienced farmers. I’m first generation, I was born in Oakland, I just came out of poverty. I don’t know much about agriculture except what I’ve been immersed in Whatcom County.”
Looking forward, Savannah’s goal is to buy land to feed her community and create a farm center to support other farmers like her. One of her goals with land acquisition is to expand into wholesale organic popcorn seed production to share the joy and quality of the crop that her customers most look forward to. For 2022, Savannah will have her hands full—she is farming 5 acres at Rabble & Roost in Ferndale where she will be stocking the self-serve farmstand and supplying the Lynden Farmer’s Market. Her high quality summer melon crop will be available for local customers and in King County, brightening meals through a new partnership with FareStart. You’ll also see Flynn Farms produce in the Community Food Co-Op stores, at Foothills Food Bank, and through the Sea Mar Food FARMacia program.
Not only is Savannah creating a space for BIPOC, LGBTQIA, and veteran farmers to feel supported, she’s also growing food and seeds that will create a more vibrant, healthy, and inclusive community. To join Flynn Farms directly this season, register for a CSA here, swing by the Lynden Farmers Market in June, and don’t miss the Spring Start Sale at Cloud Mountain Farm Center April 30 and May 1, where incubator farms offer high quality, organic plant starts for your backyard garden.