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Cultivating Success: A program for farmers

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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It's no secret that the landscape is part of what makes Mason County beautiful. From rolling hills to sandy beaches, the land outside of the towns scattered around the county draw hikers, hunters, anglers and campers year-round.

But the land in Mason County also serves a purpose. Farmers use it to grow crops, raise livestock and even use the shorelines to harvest shellfish. The land creates opportunities and economic growth for those working here.

To help those who rely on agriculture as a business in Mason County — or to help those who want to start a farm-based business — the Washington State University Extension Mason County is launching a class of the statewide Cultivating Success program.

The class is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday evenings from Oct. 20 through Dec. 8 at the Transit-Community Center in Shelton. Registration is $250 per family and the course can be taken for Continuing Education Units.

"In Mason County, agriculture can be less expensive, so there's a real, viable platform to build a business," said Mary DiMatteo, small farms education and outreach coordinator for the Mason County WSU Extension. "So we want to help participants get that process started."

The program, which takes place in different counties around the state, will host one of three topics — sustainable small farm and ranching, agricultural entrepreneurship and on-farm internships. The programs will rotate each year, so county members can participate in each category.

This year, Mason County will host the agricultural entrepreneurship program, which aims to teach people about the details of running an agricultural-based business.

"The idea is to help participants plan for their business," DiMatteo said. "It will help small farmers learn how to begin to develop a concrete business plan."

Each class will cover different aspects of developing a business, with articles, videos and speakers to cover topics such as leveraging a loan, assessing a budget and finding legal resources.

Beef farmer Larry Boltz said the program helped him when he moved to Mason County in 2004.

Boltz and his wife reached out to the county to learn about conservation and the best management practices in the county, and they were directed to the Cultivating Success program.

"We decided to attend, because we had ideas, but we didn't know what would work and what wouldn't," Boltz said. "It never hurts to see other people's points of view."

Boltz said the class helped his family learn which of their ideas could work on their new farm, and how to adjust other ideas to fit Mason County.

He said the class also helped him meet other people in the industry. Since his family was new to the area, networking helped grow his business quickly.

"Sometimes, you have these grandiose ideas and you realize maybe in reality, it doesn't fit," Boltz said. "(The class) helped us figure out what would work here."

DiMatteo said the program has been going on for years but was temporarily stopped in Mason County. However, in the past, more than 50 people in Mason County were attending the classes.

"It fosters agriculture and it fosters economic growth in Mason County," she said, adding that the class will concentrate on agriculture that is prevalent in the county, such as aquaculture farming.

The class is also open to food purchasers, processors and growers.

"We know that starting your own business, especially an agricultural one, can be a long road, and not an easy road," DiMatteo said. "But this can serve you and be a catalyst for economic development."

To register, visit www.masoncountysmallfarms. For more information, contact Mary DiMatteo at, or go to


WHAT: Cultivating Success program — Agricultural Entrepreneurship, a 10-week course to help Mason County residents learn how to manage a agriculture-based business

WHEN: 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday evenings, Oct. 20 through Dec. 15

WHERE: Transit-Community Center, 601 W. Franklin St., Shelton

WHO: The program is put on by the Washington State University Extension Mason County

COST: $250 per family; the course can also be taken for Continuing Education Units. To register, visit www.masoncountysmallfarms.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Mary DiMatteo at, or go to

Copyright 2015 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: October 15, 2015

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