To promote farming, access to healthy food, and a sustainable agricultural economy on Vashon Island through education, advocacy, and a vibrant farmers market.
Vashon is successfully championing local growers and producers of healthy and nutritious food. The Saturday Market continues to expand along with members and supporters. The number of farmers and the amount of land being farmed is steadily increasing as are the number of food entrepreneurs attracted to this resource. Vashon grown and produced food has a respected reputation and market share throughout the region and contributes substantially to the local economy and a resilient regional food system.
VIGA’s Identity Statement
We promote farming and food production in order to sustain a viable agriculture sector and economy. We do this by serving farmers and growers, food entrepreneurs, and customers on the Island and the region. The programs and services we provide include access to equipment, storage and supplies, increased access to land, technical support and education, operation of a local market and access to metropolitan area markets. VIGA is Vashon’s preeminent farm and grower organization with long standing ties to the statewide Tilth organization, and close collaboration the Vashon Land Trust and Vashon Park District. It operates with an active board of directors, excellent professional staff and volunteers drawn from its membership. VIGA is financially supported by earned income, member dues and donations, fundraising events, foundation grants, business sponsorships, and government grants and contracts.
VIGA’s Strategic Priorities
1. Support Farmers and Producers
2. Make healthy food accessible to all
3. Operate the Farmers Market
4. Build Organizational Capacity
5. Educate Growers and Eaters
6. Engage Local and Regional Communities
The VIGA Board of Directors meets monthly, and members are welcome to attend those meetings. Notice of meeting dates, times and locations are sent out to members through the VIGAMail email list. Copies of the board meeting minutes are also available and can be obtained by sending a request to the current Board Secretary.
Current Board of Directors
Liam Rockwell, President
Liam Rockwell is a long time islander who returned home after graduating from The Evergreen State College. After participating in agricultural education at Evergreen and at Hogsback Farm as an intern, he started his own farm raising vegetables in 2015 as Cedar Spring Farm. Liam joined the board in 2016, wanting to continue his passion for Vashon Agriculture in new ways.
Fun Liam Fact: His absolute favorite temperature is 72 degrees, as that is the temperature where when biking, you are both warmed by the sun and cooled by the wind simultaneously. Glorious.
Anthony Winkler, Treasurer
Anthony Winkler brings years of experience working with non-profit organizations in King County to the VIGA board. Most of his service has been with performing arts organizations such as Seattle Children’s Theatre, The 14/48 Projects, and Theater Schmeater. In 2010 he had a dietary epiphany that led him to rethink his relationship with food and get his hands dirty growing fresh produce for his family. While he develops some acreage south of Burton into a small CSA farm, he lends his community-building experience to VIGA, working to increase participation in the local economy throughout the island. If you’re motivated to support VIGA with your time and energy let him know at email@example.com, as he is also the Volunteer Coordinator for the organization.
Celina and her husband Joe moved to the island in 2000 with their then baby daughter Adri. After building their house with the help of Joe’s uncle, and a friend from the Antarctic program, they started to bring produce from their large garden to the Vashon Farmers market. That was in 2007, and they have been selling at the market ever since. Their farm has grown, and now they have two green houses, a walk in cooler, a processing shed, a composting structure and a shop as well as two more children. Celina serves on the board because she believes in the power of the market. Their primary income is made at the farmers market and is supplemented by Joe’s contracting work in solar. Celina’s other interests include art, and making sure that their three kids get to all the places they need to go. Occasionally you will hear the Yarkin girls open the market with their bagpiping.
Caitlin came to Vashon in 2014 to be an intern at Pacific Crest Farm while she completed applications for Master’s programs in agricultural economics. Turns out she liked farming more than she expected, spent a second season at Pacific Crest, and started her own vegetable growing business out of Cornerstone Farm the following year. She now works for the Land Trust in stewardship, so you may see her out working on some of your favorite island trails! Caitlin hopes to use her background in community development studies and nonprofit work in small business promotion to contribute to the strength of Vashon’s agricultural economy through her position on the VIGA board.
Chef, Farmer, and Microbiologist are all attributes that make Dave Hatfield deeply involved in food advocacy on all levels. Dave started Pink Tractor Farm four years ago as a model for sustainable, bio-diverse and carbon-zero farming practices as well as a platform to provide farm-to-table experiences and education to the local community. Dave believes that good, clean and healthy food should be accessible to all and not treated as a commodity. Dave Hatfield has been a chef for 16 years including opening his own restaurant and teaching culinary college in central Oregon. In 2010 he attended Slow Food’s Terra Madre conferences in Turin as an Oregon delegate.
Perrin Meriwether, Vashon Farmers Market Manager –firstname.lastname@example.org
The Vashon Island Growers Association (VIGA) began in the 1980s with a few people who wanted to create on-island jobs in farming. They started a small Farmers Market near the current Post Office, and by 1990 had moved to the current site (although it was private property then) and built a small structure to house the Market.
A small group of local growers continued selling into the 1990s, and craft vendors joined the effort and even managed the Market for a while. Controversies over what could be sold caused the owner of the land to close down the Market, but the farmers regrouped and a more narrowly defined Farmers Market featuring locally grown produce returned.
To help stabilize their efforts, the founding farmers decided to apply to become a member of Washington Tilth, a statewide organization promoting local, organic agriculture. A Mission Statement and bylaws were adopted and VIGA became an official Tilth chapter and a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. As an organization devoted to ‘supporting local agriculture through education and the Farmers Market,’ VIGA developed a strong educational program, the Get Growing series, which focused on assisting people to grow more food for their families as well as for the Market.
In 1998 VIGA received a grant to build the current shed structure, and the following year spearheaded a community-wide effort to purchase the land under the shed. Over $200,000 was raised to buy what is now known as the Village Green, and the permanent home of the Vashon Island Farmers Market.
VIGA’s educational focus continued as volunteers from the group helped the Vashon High School develop a horticulture program focusing on raising fruits and vegetables organically. VIGA volunteers helped create the high school garden, tilling, fencing and refurbishing a greenhouse for the students. VIGA members have been the faculty of the program since its inception.
The educational program continued to expand with VIGA members taking an active role in the WTO protests in Seattle in 2000. Local growers marched, attended workshops, made breakfast for over 300 farmers and supporters, and hosted farmers from all over the world at a dinner on Vashon featuring locally grown food. Out of that effort came an increased focus on the politics of food here on Vashon and around the world. The most recent educational programs have focused on low-cost food production and preservation.
As the Farmers Market grew, VIGA looked for assistance and in 2004 hired its first staff member – a professional Market Manager. The Market thrived under her leadership and continues to grow and prosper under the ongoing leadership of different Market Managers. VIGA volunteers continued to develop educational programs as well as do the work of a growing organization.
Today VIGA is a thriving organization playing a major role in supporting agriculture on Vashon Island. Retail sales of locally grown produce topped $300,000 in 2010. There’s a growing interest in island-raised meat and dairy products as well. New business enterprises are springing up to support these developments including a producers co-op for wholesale sales and a mobile slaughter house. Island restaurants feature island produce and an island-produced soft cheese is one of the most highly regarded and popular around Puget Sound.
Most significantly, more people are growing food on Vashon; there are now at least 12 farms represented at the Farmers Market and most host interns who help plan to become farmers themselves. Our Food Bank has not only a garden, but a flourishing farm supplying fresh produce to Food Bank customers as well as to other food banks in the South Seattle area. Home gardeners are adding edibles to their landscapes. We are all discovering the importance of locally and sustainably grown food here on our island.