The complexities of farmland preservation

by Kristin Vogel, PCC Farmland Trust Administrator

This article was originally published in June 2008

Saving farmland is not just challenging and expensive: it’s also an art.

For each potential farm that we endeavor to save, a complex web of timing, research, funding, insurance, geography, real estate information and assorted legalities must be in place to support a deal that will keep that land producing organic food in perpetuity. This spring, the PCC Farmland Trust has been evaluating seriously several complicated farm projects and researching many more.

On a sunny and windy April morning, we set out to visit several potential farm projects in Kittitas County. In researching the projects in Kittitas — and another in Snohomish County — the trust has teamed up with the Cascade Land Conservancy (CLC), Washington’s largest independent land conservation and stewardship organization.

During our day in Kittitas County, we traveled all around Ellensburg, viewing plots of farmland, talking with the local CLC project manager, and having an in-depth conversation with a local, organic farmer about the logistical, economic and social challenges of farming today.

Another collaborative project we’ve been working on this spring is with the Nature Conservancy and South of the Sound Community Farm Land Trust in Thurston County. This project involves a very exciting and dynamic 730-acre property and highlights ways that conservation efforts can be combined with agricultural preservation.

But perhaps our biggest and most immediate project and partnership is with Pierce County in the South Puyallup Valley region. In this highly threatened valley, we have been working steadily for almost a year to set the stage for our next group of farmers.

On a recent visit to this farm site, we spent the day tromping through the tall grasses in our mud boots, envisioning the ways in which this fertile land could support greenhouses and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operations, with goats and chickens, and … We imagined fields of various vegetables, winding vines, a smattering of local flowers, and young organic farmers out with their hands in the soil, learning and establishing a future of sustainable agriculture.

As we watched the barn swallows floating and swooping in the spring breeze, we got ready to return to Seattle, re-energized to save this beautiful farm from the encroaching residential and commercial development that has claimed so many other farms in the area.

When you donate to the PCC Farmland Trust, you put the trust in a strong position to do the complex and time-intensive work necessary each and every time one of these new farm possibilities comes into view. Please support us as we approach our next big project!

To make a donation to the PCC Farmland Trust, please visit our online donation form, or call the Trust at 206-547-9855.

Also in this issue

Your co-op, June 2008

Annual membership meeting, Election outcome, Board meetings

Saving salmon through your local garden center

Next time you visit your local garden center or home improvement store, you can do something very simple that would help protect our native salmon. Take a look around the pesticide section and make sure the store has posted signs identifying certain pesticides as hazardous to salmon.