–by Brenda Campbell, Stewardship & Community Education Coordinator
Through PCC Farmland Trust’s Stewardship program we are able to ensure the integrity and long-term sustainability of each conservation easement we hold, forever. Each year, the Stewardship team conducts annual monitoring visits on each of our conserved properties to ensure that they remain in compliance with our organic agricultural easements. Stewardship staff walks the properties with the respective grower to discuss the season, management techniques and any issues that may impact the property or the organic certification. Additionally, we monitor livestock numbers, on-site composting and processing, nutrient management, soil fertility and diversity, and discuss whether a restoration project or volunteer work party would benefit the farmer.
In 2012, the Stewardship team was very busy and with the help of dedicated volunteers we were able to complete annual monitoring on all 1,169 acres of PCC Farmland Trust conserved properties in Washington State! Additionally, we successfully surveyed, monitored, and maintained over 2,500 feet of riparian habitat which was replanted at Tahoma Farms in 2011. We were more than happy to observe the plants thriving after their first full year in the ground and will continue to monitor this restoration site in the years to come.
Another 2012 Stewardship program highlight included the 2nd annual invasive species removal work party at Growing Things Farm in the Snoqualmie Valley. Building on the successful 2011 event, PCC Farmland Trust, Growing Things Farm, and Microsoft partnered once again in 2012 for the Microsoft Intern Day of Caring and hosted over 70 summer interns from Microsoft’s Redmond campus to jump on a bus and head to Growing Things Farm in the Snoqualmie Valley for a day of volunteer work. The interns, donning gloves and plenty of sunscreen, got down in the dirt and removed invasive species on over 4 acres of land where the unwanted plants had aggressively reestablished themselves after last year’s floods. Farmer Michaele Blakely spent all day with the interns, teaching them about organic farming in the Snoqualmie Valley and giving them a personal tour of her beautiful farm. Growing Things Farm, PCC Farmland Trust, and Microsoft are all looking forward to another great day of invasive plant removal in 2013!
Hop over the fence at Growing Things Farm and you’ll find PCC Farmland Trust Stewardship staff hard at work with another great local farmer, Jeff Rogers of Snoqualmie Valley Lamb, who is helping to rehabilitate the pasture at Ames Creek Farm’s 20 Acres property. With Jeff’s knowledge and expertise we are working to restore pasture complexity and enhance the nutrient load of the grasses which will enable the property to support organic pasture fed lamb in 2013. You can get a closer look of the Ames Creek Farm– 20 Acres property this summer during PCC Farmland Trust’s On the Farm series of events, which will feature Jeff’s Snoqualmie Valley Lamb operation and a demonstration of his three working dogs doing what they do best- herding sheep!
In 2012, the PCC Farmland Trust Stewardship team had the pleasure of working with another new farm business, Sanford’s Farm, down in the Puyallup River Valley. Jeremy Sanford and his family moved onto 27 acres of the previously conserved Orting Valley Farms in July, 2012 and have been busy becoming certified organic as well as getting the farm ready for the 2013 growing season. Sanford’s Farm will be producing organic eggs, broiler chickens, and specialty row crop veggies in 2013 and you may even see a turkey or two running around the property! Be sure to keep your eyes on The Crop for more information on our upcoming volunteer opportunities and farm tour at Sanford’s Farm in early March.
Thank you to everyone who made our 2012 year a success, and our Stewardship program possible. Financial contributions guarantee we can continue to steward our conserved lands; volunteers enable on-farm habitat restoration and invasive species removal; and partner organization all play a critical role in preserving organic farmland. As we move into 2013, the Stewardship team is looking forward to another year of monitoring conservation easements, conducting volunteer restoration projects, monitoring habitat restoration plantings from years past, and supporting organic farming in Washington State. See you on the farm!