Western innovator: Dream farm created for sharing
746-acre parcel hosts homes, fields, pasture and conservation easements
By STEVE BROWN
SKOKOMISH, Wash. -- Alann and Mali Krivor spent most of their life together buying and selling properties in Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana.
When they looked at a farm at the base of the Olympic Mountains, the property grabbed them. The land was to be sold to a conservancy and turned into wilderness, but with its rich soil and peaceful setting the Krivors saw a place to build their dream -- a village around a farm -- and share the experience.
They divided the 746-acre property into 19 parcels of 40 acres. The parcels are sold with the understanding that 5 acres will be the homesite and 35 acres will be a shared permanent agricultural easement.
"Our buyers are passionate about that vision," Mali Krivor said. "They're grateful to live around a farm and not be responsible for it if they don't want to be."
Owners who are active in growing and harvesting will be paid in "farm bucks" to purchase farm products, she said.
Nine parcels have been sold so far at a starting price of $250,000, and sales are pending on five more. The parcels are designed so the homesites will be clustered well out of the floodplain, making the rest of the land available for production.
The buyers have come from many walks of life: attorneys, trauma doctors, a social worker, a mortgage banker and an Air Force pilot. None is a farmer, "but they bring skills and fine, bright minds to make this vision happen," she said. "We can hire the agricultural knowledge."
The company, Skokomish Valley Farms Inc., will hire a farm manager to oversee people in charge of the livestock, poultry, greenhouses, vegetables, orchards and marketing. At this point, the Krivors are looking to hire a farmhand to help them raise hay and a handful of mother cows and calves. Eventually they figure they can run up to 100 cattle and 200 sheep, using intensively managed grazing, rotating them through the broad pastures.
Sustainable practices, including grass-fed livestock and the use of chicken tractors, are based on principles developed by Joel Salatin, an influential farmer and author.
The farm plans to sell only wholesale, but it will also encourage owners to retail the products at the dozens of farmers' markets in the area. Crops will be available to the owners at wholesale prices to be paid for when the products are sold.
"Some people look at investment potential," Alann Krivor said. "We're selling this as a personal investment, a change in lifestyle. They can buy a hedge against the economy and security for their children."
Helping design the layout was Randall Arendt, a land planner known for creative development design as a conservation tool. Arendt can assist buyers in keeping their land farm-oriented instead of residential, Alann Krivor said.
The property is secluded, with river on three sides and a mountain on the fourth.
The cost of the land is partially defrayed by a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program through the USDA Farm Service Agency, a 15-year land rental agreement to improve salmon habitat through streambank enhancement.
Also the farm has two programs under the Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program. One is a permanent easement of land that is inundated much of the year; the other is a five-year wildlife protection program.
The Mason Conservation District worked with the Krivors in assessing the resources, identifying conservation possibilities and developing their farm plan.
John Bolender, district manager, said, "We are grateful there was an opportunity to preserve as much land as we could under the development scheme they were proposing. ... They reduced the number of buildable lots they were originally planning."
The Krivors have planted 24,000 trees under the programs.
According to the farm plan, the farm will eventually have a 200-member community-supported agriculture arrangement; raise poultry, rabbits and cattle; build processing facilities for poultry, rabbits and red meat; and develop a value-added product line.
The land is in transition to organic production and will be one of the largest organic farms in the region.
Net profits will be divided among the managers, landowners and Skokomish Farms Inc.
Alann and Mali Krivor
Company: Skokomish Valley Farms LLC
Background: Alann is a Navy veteran, construction and land development; Mali is a land company founder
Education: Alann, University of Washington; Mali, University of Colorado
Hometown: Alann, "the Pacific Northwest," Mali, Boise
Family: Four grown children, three grandchildren
A collection of 2011's Western innovators is available on Amazon's Kindle. Take a look at "Western Innovators: Profiles of 42 agricultural leaders who shaped the West in 2011" at www.amazon.com/Western-Innovators-Profiles-agricultural-ebook/dp/B009NMO76O