Farming and habitat: Sharing with the neighbors

by Jody Aliesan, PCC Farmland Fund President and Operating Officer

This article was originally published in January 2002

PCC Farmland Fund logo

See related article: Farmland Fund receives letters from home

This month the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Commissioners will meet with an item on their agenda of great importance to the Farmland Fund. They will discuss approval of the agency’s purchase of our Delta Farm’s wetlands and a conservation easement on the rest of our farm.

WDFW’s $241,000 purchase would complete repayment of the loan necessary for the rescue of this land. After two years and the work and generosity of more than 800 people, our Delta Farm would be safe, free and clear.

This story began with the vision of WDFW wildlife biologist Anita McMillan. She wrote a grant for purchase of floodplains along the Lower Dungeness River northwest of Sequim. Funded in 1999 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the grant’s purpose is to restore salmon habitat in this landscape.

As a funding condition, the USFWS required local partners. The Farmland Fund raised its collective hand. We submitted an amendment allowing organic farming that won USFWS approval in July 2000.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch
In April 2000, we saved the Delta Farm during an emergency two-hour window of opportunity that required $600,000 — much more than the $100,000 we had raised.

On that memorable day, PCC asked permission of two banks to use existing loans to help the Farmland Fund secure the land. The banks agreed, as long as the funds were returned to their original purpose by December 1, 2001. Otherwise we would have to sell the farm; this was a powerful incentive.

You know the rest of the story. We banded together to create a community of rescuers who raised our half of the WDFW match in plenty of time. The agency’s process took longer, and involved data inventory, biologist approval, appraisal and option negotiations.

Wild creatures are our neighbors
Negotiators looked as far as we were able into a future of change: environmental, political and climatic. We crafted documents that hold each organization to its side of an agreement that demonstrates how we can protect habitat and organic farming together. The Farmland Fund signed these documents on November 29, 2001, on the eve of a full moon.

PCC had a very good year in 2001. This fortunate fact combined with the Farmland Fund’s repayment record eased bank pressure, allowing PCC to extend its loan until the day the Farmland Fund receives expected good news from our state’s WDFW Commissioners. Then we’ll frame a copy of the check and celebrate!

And we’ll move on to save the next farm.

Chantal Stevens

New Advisory Board Member
Chantal Stevens is a fish biologist, a former tribal fish biologist, executive director of People for Salmon, a member of PCC’s Board of Trustees and a new Farmland Fund Advisory Board Member. “I applaud the energy and commitment the Farmland Fund and PCC members have dedicated to protecting and promoting sustainable agriculture and I look forward to helping in any way I can.”

And now, a message from the Earth: Plant trees!
During 2002, biologists will help us identify the Delta Farm’s habitat zones, such as wetlands boundaries and seasonal pools important to migratory waterfowl. We will plant these areas with local native trees and shrubs, to restore habitat and protect the zones from farming activity.

Flora candidates include species with an affinity for stream banks: a combination of fast-growing deciduous varieties, which will provide a quick overhanging coverage, and slow-growing hardwoods, which will shed branches into the water to create pools and other in-stream habitat.

Our tree-planting advisors are: Randy Johnson, fish biologist, and Anita McMillan, wildlife biologist, both of WDFW; Chantal Stevens, executive director of People for Salmon; and Paula Mackrow of the North Olympic Salmon Coalition.

Want to participate?

  • Sponsor a tree planter. Dedicate your gift to the care and feeding of an intrepid wildlife ally.
  • Sponsor a tree for yourself, in honor or in memory of someone (including wildlife species), to celebrate the loan payoff, or to herald spring.

Farmland Fund Highlights

Thank the Farmer campaign report: In November, the Fund mailed a thank you card to a Washington organic farmer for every gift received. Donors contributed $3,260 in gratitude for the fresh, organic produce on our tables. The local farmers who make this possible opened 68 cards with your messages written on them.

Tax Rebate Check Report: During November, $300 was sent with a note attached “My ‘tax rebate’ is enclosed.” Another $1,800 was given in rebate check amounts.

Contribute $100 or more to the Fund and receive a free print. Original illustrations in color pencil and watercolor by Northwest artists are printed on high quality recycled paper, and are donated by Good Nature Publishing. Sunset Magazine calls these illustrations “Horticultural Fine Art!”

Donor Roster (November 1 – 30)

Anonymous: 13
Lori Babcock
Judy Bellmont
Dr. Julia Bent
Kate Bradley
Arden Clise
Marc and Beth Cordova
Sally Deneen
Dean Drugge
Diane Eileen
Jane and Warren Elmer
Karrie Ferguson
Mary Jane Helmann
Jeanette Henderson
David A. Heitmiller and Jacqueline Blix
Dianne Holterman and Ron Killman
Aaron Katz
Elizabeth D. Knapp
David and Patricia Leavengood
Monica Lu
Joyce MacKenzie
Gail Malizia
Robert Messina
Luella McLane
Penny and David Miller
The Mitchell Family
Robin Nielsen
Joanne Polayes-Wien
Joan Ritzenthaler
Kelly Sanderbeck and Brent Ewing
D.M. Scheer, DC
Donna Schaeffer
Manvel and Verna Schauffler
Chantal Stevens and Dennis Wajda
Dawne Swanson and Mark Cole
Norm Tjaden
Jo Ann Tramm
Nancy and Mark Tucker
Michael Turnsen
Susan Ward
Mary J. White

PCC staff
More than 100 PCC staff make voluntary payroll deductions twice a month. Debra Daniels-Zeller makes monthly gifts beyond her payroll deduction; an anonymous staff member contributed a donation and note for the Thank the Farmer campaign; and the Greenlake checkstand piggy bank added $23.

Businesses and Organizations:
Café Ambrosia
New Seattle Massage
Salmon Bay Friends Meeting

In honor:
Virginia A. Kelley
Dian and Peter Nielsen
Jan Penta
Heidi and Lindsay Schwartz

In memory:
Bob Brewer

Also in this issue

Your co-op, January 2002

Board approves new member benefits package, Last call for board applications, Bag reuse donation report, and more

News bites, January 2002

Citizens say "No!" to proposed fertilizer regulations, Become a Master Home Environmentalist, Learn about genetically engineered fish