Elise Higley

Elise Higley owns and operates Oshala Farm near Grants Pass, Ore., with her husband, Jeff. Higley was one of 20 women accepted in the first Women's Farm2Food business accelerator, established by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Foundation.

Women farmers in Oregon and Washington will receive training and expertise in delivering their products to market as part of a new business accelerator established by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Foundation.

The Women's Farm2Food Accelerator began earlier this month in partnership with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Oregon State University Food Innovation Center and Union Kitchen, a food and beverage business incubator based in Washington, D.C.

Twenty women — 10 from Oregon, 10 from Washington — were accepted into the program. Courses began March 3, spanning four main sessions including product launch, marketing, lab testing and development, and pricing and pitching to buyers.

In its first year, the accelerator is focused on women who grow specialty crops for value-added ingredients. It is designed to support small farms with less than $500,000 in annual gross sales and fewer than 20 employees.

"The women chosen come from all over the state, producing everything from herbal teas, liquors and pot pies," said Alexis Taylor, ODA director. "I think this is an exciting opportunity where we as a state department of agriculture can help a group of Oregon women make their farm businesses more profitable and succeed."

The year-long accelerator aims to connect women with other farmers and local experts, along with hands-on experience in researching and one-on-one marketing assistance. 

Applicants accepted into the 2020 program include: 

• Alicia Leonhardt, Rochester, Wash.

• Angela Cordiano, Kitsap Farms, Hansville, Wash.

• Aurora Ashkar, Pleasant Valley Organics, Gresham, Ore.

• Caroline Barnes, La Grande, Ore.

• Cammille Layton, Friday Harbor, Wash.

• Diane Fish, Poulsbo, Wash.

• Elise Higley, Oshala Farm, Grants Pass-Applegate, Ore.

• Elizabeth Miller, Minto Island Tea Co., Salem, Ore.

• Gabrielle Hall, North Star Farm, Lopez Island, Wash.

• Jennifer Skouras, Elysian Acres Family Farm, Jefferson, Ore.

• Kate Tossey, Kate's Herbs, Olympia, Wash.

• Kristen Lyon, Jefferson Farm Kitchen, Jacksonville, Ore.

• Margaux Muller, Margalaxy, Portland.

• Maria Rice, Chow This!, Milwaukie, Ore.

• Meg Depew, Sequim Bee Farm, Port Angeles, Wash.

• Minid Miller, Corvallis, Ore.

• Monica Burnison, Twinkle Toes farm, Enumclaw, Wash.

• Reeba Daniel, Portland.

• Rose Smith, Stratton Brothers Cider, La Center, Wash.

• Shaelee Evans, Goodness Tea, Sequim, Wash.

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