Why this matters
We have a choice to make. We can surrender to the “inevitability” of fallow fields, big box stores, and identical houses where fertile land once was. We can watch as some of the best agricultural soil in the world is gradually subsumed by cement, malls, office parks and the gray expanse of “progress”. Or we can capitalize on the preservation work we’ve fought for, and use that momentum to chart a course toward a tangible, meaningful vision of sustainable agriculture in Washington State.
One thing is certain: everyone, everywhere needs to eat food every day. And as we lose Washington farmland at an incredible rate—23,000 acres each year, about the size of Lake Washington—we are facing a future in which our ability to feed ourselves is severely compromised. PCC Farmland Trust is leading a call to action and increasing awareness about why it’s so urgent that we save what’s left of one of our most valuable natural resources: farmland. Often the farmland that is the most agriculturally valuable–flat and well-drained prime soils–is also the most desirable for development.
Benefits of organic farming
Using land for an organic farm instead of residential or commercial development offers benefits that roads, houses and malls could never provide. Organic farming methods protect water and air quality, prevent soil erosion, provide food and cover for wildlife, and eliminate the problems created by petroleum-based, high-nitrogen fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals used in industrial farming.
- The average American farmer is over 57 years of age. The American Farmland Trust estimates that 70% of the remaining farmland in the nation will change owners in the next 10 years.
- Since 2000, the average price per acre of Washington farm real estate has climbed 69%. Increasingly, farmers cannot afford to farm.
- Demand for organic food has grown 20% per year for the past several years, but organic farmland in the US has only increased 1% per year.
Research done by Sustainable Seattle found that shifting just 20% of our food dollars to local choices more than doubles the number of dollars circulating among local businesses. Not only does PCC Farmland Trust serve a crucial role in preserving threatened farmland, we also help to provide a critical link between local growers and the people who eat their food.
Supporting local food systems
When the average Washingtonian sits down to eat, the food on his or her plate has typically traveled at least 1,500 miles. Not so for anyone who eats food produced by a PCC Farmland Trust farmer. People can see and taste the difference of a “Nash’s Best” Sequim carrot, or Tahoma Farms’ brussels sprouts straight from the Puyallup Valley.
Strengthening local communities
Direct links between producer and consumer result in greater food security and ensure that local farmers earn a livable wage. When the distance between food and consumers shrinks, so does transport-related pollution and energy costs.