Updates From The Farm

The information below was shared in a press release on February 14, 2024. Is a difficult transition for all involved. We invite anyone to connect with us personally to discuss the many complexities involved. We’ve provided some context below, along with some answers to frequently asked questions. 

Cloud Mountain Farm Center, a program of Sustainable Connections, is streamlining operations and channeling its focus in the coming years. The organization has announced the desire to sell its Lawrence Road property, a valuable site that has played a crucial role in supporting local agriculture over the past decade with a farm incubator program.


The site is separate from Cloud Mountain Farm Center and Nursery located at 6906 Goodwin Road, which will continue operations in the same capacity with its workshops, retail nursery, organic fruit production and demonstration, Puget Sound Food Hub aggregation site, food storage, WSDA certified processing center, and more. This separate Lawrence Road property includes 20 acres of land, a greenhouse, and a two-bedroom house. Since the house is currently occupied and the land is being farmed, interested parties are asked to make an appointment to view the property.

Cloud Mountain Farm became a nonprofit on July 1, 2011, and shortly after, we purchased the home and farm at Lawrence Road in 2012 for $400,000 with a grant from the Whatcom Community Foundation. The foundation further invested in the barn, fencing, and irrigation. The intent at that time was for the site to be used for vegetable production to give farm interns hands-on experience and to provide land lease, equipment rental, and facility space rental at below-market rates for new farmers. Other technical support, equipment training, business counseling, and facilitation of market access have been provided over the years as well. 

We have come to understand better a number of the challenges that beginning and existing small, more local/regional-oriented farms face (and they are consistent for the most part with the other areas of the Country). These include 1) access to markets, storage/distribution solutions, and processing equipment 2) access to affordable land/housing 3) access to educational resources that help improve farm business administration, operations, and production expertise, etc. 4) access to workers with experience/passion for farming 5) access to quality plant material, and more. Beginning and small farms face a multitude of challenges. Our Food & Farming program and Cloud Mountain Farm Center are helping in a lot of these areas, but it is a lot to do, we are stretched thin, and it is a lot to fundraise for. 

Current staffing and funding for Cloud Mountain Farm Center aren’t sufficient to provide the support needed at this second site (the Lawrence Road Farm). The fundraising environment is competitive, as is the job market. Finding both at adequate levels to continue to support the Lawrence Rd. farm is out of reach and not sustainable for the coming years. 

Our goal is to sell the site to strong farm stewards who will continue to use the land productively as well as organically and to benefit the needs of the local food system including the possibility of supporting newer, underserved, and marginalized farmers. We aren’t expecting this process to be fast because we are dedicated to finding the right fit for the land. It may take a couple of years. There were 4 small farm businesses on the Lawrence Road farm in 2023. All were notified of this change in the fall of 2023, and all were offered the opportunity to continue to farm there for the 2024 season. We are talking with other nonprofits, some of whom help prepare beginning farmers for growth and eventual ownership. We are open to creative solutions for existing farmers and for the future of the land.   

We are also regularly checking in with our partners at the Whatcom Community Foundation who funded our purchase in 2012. Any proceeds from the sale will be used to help fund the other farmer-supported activities we provide, 1) Processing/Aggregation/Distribution 2) Agriculture workforce development 3) Fruit program development: growing, researching, and sharing knowledge about the benefits of organic fruit crops in Western WA  4) Workshops & education for farmers, home growers, and the community 5) Nursery operations that provide food producing plants for home gardeners as well as plant materials to help farms grow. 

To help answer questions, we’ve compiled some FAQ about the closure of the program and the desire to find new owners for the Lawrence Road farm:

  1. What is the Lawrence Road property and why is it significant to Cloud Mountain Farm Center?

The Lawrence Road property is a 20-acre site that has been crucial to our farm incubator program over the past decade. It is separate from our main farm and nursery at 6906 Goodwin Rd and has provided resources and training to newer farm businesses, supporting local agriculture.


  1. Why are we looking for new owners for the Lawrence Road property?

We are streamlining our operations and focusing on programming on our primary site at 6906 Goodwin Road. Due to funding and staffing capacity, we’ve decided to end the farm incubator program that operated at the Lawrence Road property and focus our efforts on other programming. 


  1. What facilities and features does the Lawrence Road property include?

The Lawrence Road property includes 20 acres of land, a greenhouse, and a two-bedroom house. The house is currently occupied, and the land is being farmed. Interested parties must schedule an appointment to view the property.


  1. How will the sale of the Lawrence Road property be conducted?

The sale process is evolving as we engage in conversations with potential buyers and partners. Our staff and Board of Directors are actively evaluating options and communicating with stakeholders. Interested parties can contact Derek Long, Executive Director at Sustainable Connections, to schedule an appointment and express their interest. 


  1. How much are you selling the property for?

We are exploring market rates and partnerships that may make the land more accessible to newer farm businesses or nonprofits. 


  1. What is the timeline for the transition of the Lawrence Road property?

We anticipate a transition period of 1-2 years as we search for new stewards for the property. During this time, we will explore creative solutions and seek individuals or entities committed to using the land productively and organically to benefit the regional food system. 


  1. What types of individuals or entities are we seeking as stewards for the Lawrence Road property?

We are seeking strong stewards who will continue to use the land productively and organically to benefit the regional food system. We are open to supporting newer, underserved, low-income, or minority farmers in finding a welcoming space to cultivate their growing businesses. We are focused on finding the right fit for the future of this land and the future of the community. 


8.Is Cloud Mountain Farm Center or Sustainable Connections in financial trouble?  

Cloud Mountain Farm Center is preparing for a change in funding structure which requires new and alternative revenue sources. Simplifying the Lawrence Road operations will free up needed resources. 


  1. Would we keep the property if we could find funding? What about a fundraiser? 

We have found that funding for small incubator programs is limited, and it is not a sustainable model with current conditions for farm business development and the high cost of land access. 


  1. Will the Cloud Mountain Farm Center Nursery still be open? Will Cloud Mountain still grow and sell fruit?

Yes. Operations, including the nursery, will continue at our main location at 6906 Goodwin Road. We will continue to grow and sell fruit. 


  1. How will the transition impact our mission and focus?

While the Lawrence Road property has been integral to nurturing beginning farmers, we remain committed to supporting local agriculture. By redirecting resources towards essential programs at our primary site, we aim to continue promoting sustainable farming practices and strengthening the regional food system. 


  1. Does this mean the end of technical support to new and beginning farmers by Cloud Mountain Farm Center?

No! Technical support for farms seeking value-added processing, workforce development, and perennial fruit production will still be available. In addition, Sustainable Connections’ Food & Farming program will continue to offer promotion and connection support for producers that sell retail and wholesale. 


  1. How can interested parties get in touch with us regarding the Lawrence Road property?

Interested parties are encouraged to contact Derek Long, Executive Director at Sustainable Connections, to schedule an appointment to view the property. You can reach Derek at 360-647-7093 x101 or via email at derekl@sustainableconnections.org. 



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