Choosing farms to save: the basics of good soil and water
by Melissa Campbell, Stewardship and Lands Associate
This article was originally published in August 2009
Quite often, the PCC Farmland Trust is asked about the criteria for projects. Are we interested in saving large or small farms? Do we have regions of priority? Are we interested in working on the east side or the west side of the mountains? To all of these, we answer yes.
The trust recognizes the importance of being nimble and working as quickly as possible to save as many acres as possible, wherever in Washington they might be. At the same time, we recognize that in agriculture, there are certain “must-haves” — for farmers and for the long-term viability of agriculture.
For instance, protecting farmland with prime agricultural soils and water availability always is paramount. Prioritizing quality soil, available water and water rights also ensures we’re investing in a viable and sustainable farm operation.
As we pursue projects in Pierce, Thurston, Kittitas and Whatcom counties, the trust’s staff talks with real estate brokers, farmers and land-use planners and examines the fundamental question of what is the most effective strategy to preserve farmland in Washington.
Should we focus on the “low-hanging fruit” and preserve the more remote farmland that’s likely to cost less? Or is it better to secure farmland on the urban fringe — the place between cities and rural areas that’s likely to be the most threatened, but also the more costly option?
A case could be built for supporting either of these scenarios but the reality is, farmland everywhere is threatened. Firm priorities such as prime soils and water, and continual examination of our strategies, enables us to support viable organic farming now and in the future.
Interested in a deeper discussion on farmland preservation? Join our conversation! Visit our Facebook page and let us know what you think about these suggestions and the complexities of saving local organic farmland forever.