AFT’s Brighter Future Fund Helps Support Old Homestead Alpacas in the Pacific Northwest
Elaine did not grow up farming; raised in northwest Indiana, her memories of agriculture center on what she saw at the county fairs. In 2008 she and her husband Mike transitioned out of their military careers and moved to Walla Walla, Washington. They purchased a 10-acre parcel that included the original home and barn, two llamas on the property and was surrounded by acres of farmland. After learning that alpacas, a relative of llamas, were smaller – and in Elaine’s opinion cuter, no offense to llama lovers – they added a few to the mix. By chance, Old Homestead Alpacas was born. Today, they are a fiber farm curating ultra soft, naturally dyed knitwear made exclusively from their alpaca herd and seasonal fresh cut flowers.
In 2022, Elaine applied for a Pacific Northwest Brighter Future Fund award through the American Farmland Trust supported by Tillamook and others. For Elaine, wind is a significant challenge to the flower subscription that she offers. Bouquets of flowers need straight stems, and the strong winds that move through Walla Walla batter the flowers. Trellises and other mitigation strategies have helped, but the funds will allow her to put up a strong chain-link slat fence on the property line that will more effectively stop the winds. Leftover funds will go to upgraded corrals for the alpacas, which will increase efficiency in moving them around the property. Learn more about Old Homestead Alpacas here.
About American Farmland Trust (AFT)’s Brighter Future Fund:
AFT’s Brighter Future Fund provides grants of up to $5,000 per project to help farmers nationwide improve farm viability, access, transfer or permanently protect farmland, or adopt regenerative agricultural practices. In 2022, the fund accepted applications from farmers who identify as BIPOC, Veterans, LGBTQIA+ and beginning farmers who had limited access to financial resources in the past. Since 2020, AFT with the support of Tillamook and others has provided approximately $2.5 million in grants directly to more than 2,000 farmers across the nation. Learn more here.