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The Original Farmland Champion

20100117_pccFarmlandTrustNashFarmTour-425The Story of Nash and PCC Farmland Trust

In more than 20 years of farming in Sequim, Nash Huber had been stuck hundreds of times. Whether a tractor in the deep mineral-rich mud, or an outbreak of grain rust, problem solving had become second nature to this life-long producer. But when a 97-acre parcel of his long-leased farmland came in danger of being developed into small housing lots for a growing retiree market, he was truly stuck.

It had never been in his business plan to own very much of the land that he farmed. Most farm businesses of his size have extremely thin profit margins, huge infrastructure costs, and more variables than almost any other enterprise, so the $600,000 required to buy the land outright was a pipe dream.  But the thought of his precious Dungeness soil—some of the best in the world—being paved over permanently, was an unacceptable outcome for this organic agriculture pioneer.

He approached one of his largest local buyers, PCC Natural Markets. “If you want to keep selling my famous carrots” he said, “you’re going to have to help me protect the soil that makes them famous. “

In 2000, Jody Aliesan at PCC rallied its members and supporters, and Nash and Patty Huber rallied their community.  The money was raised, and PCC Farmland Trust was born. The non-profit bought the land and barns and farmhouse, leased it all back to Nash, and established an easement that requires 74 acres always remain a farm, with 23 acres protected as critical wildlife habitat.  Nash can rest assured that the land he and his predecessors stewarded for decades will never be paved over.

Nash Huber solved not only his own problem, but designed a model that can help farmers across Washington ensure that their land will stay farmland, forever.  PCC Farmland Trust has now protected 15 family farms on over 1300 acres that will contribute to our vibrant local food community for generations to come.

Nash’s Organic Produce farms 450 acres in Sequim, Washington and is considered a local and national leader in organic production. Learn more about Nash’s story, practices, properties, and awards.

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The 2014 Annual Report is here!

We’re so grateful for all that you helped us accomplish in 2014, including laying the groundwork for some significant milestones in 2015. Read all about it in our 2014 Annual Report.

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May Food and Farms in the News

11060246_10153358435517139_5715359984229159048_nExcited for summer farmers markets in Seattle? Find out what’s new this season.

Purdue University and the USDA say that agriculture– often assumed to be a dying industry– is one of the best new fields for college grads. The report covers more than just farming.

The conversation is ongoing, but the government might officially link diet to the environment.

Our friends working for resilient “ag of the middle” in Oregon just released a report about the unique challenges facing this key piece of the sustainability puzzle. Listen to a radio recap, or take an interactive journey through their findings.

Do you dream of being a farmer? Here are a bunch of practical considerations, some of which are similar to our own criteria for conserving a farm.

The USDA announced that they will be offering a voluntary label for food free of GMOs. Though some say it’s not a substitute for mandatory disclosure.

Finally, your dose of cute and funny farm animal videos. There are seven!

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What does it mean to protect farmland?

For us, it’s about more than just preventing development.DSC_0896

Our vision is for farmers to be able to build a future. For agriculture to be a viable lifestyle—a viable profession—farmers must be able to afford good land. This land should be near customers, so they can sell their goods and continue to invest in their land, their infrastructure, their business, and their people. It should come with a community, ideally an agricultural community, that can support them through shared knowledge, equipment, and the opportunity for collaboration.

Unfortunately, this vision is not possible without affordable access to land. But you can help.

Between 2009 and 2013, the average price per acre for Washington farm real estate increased 17.5 percent. In the Puget Sound region—our prime soils on the urban fringe—this number is much higher.

We all depend on talented, entrepreneurial farmers to preserve our agricultural heritage, steward our soils, and of course, provide us with fresh food. But when farmers cannot afford the land they need, we all lose.

PCC Farmland Trust is committed to helping connect capable and promising farmers with high-quality farmland that’s within financial reach. We use a variety of land access tools to make farmland more affordable for new farmers, while making the goal of farmland succession a reality for retiring farmers. We are bridging this land succession gap with our enhanced affordability tools and ready and flexible capital.

To be this bridge, we need nimble funding to step in before the land is transitioned to non-farmland use. You, our supporters, make this possible with your donations. We are within reach of our mid-year fundraising goal. Thank you for helping us get there.

By making a gift today, you can help foster a future for family farms, ensuring that land is protected for farming and accessible for farmers.

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Supporter Spotlight: Meet Jared

JaredJared Mitchell has been one of our most dedicated volunteers, always ready to dig in and complete projects on farms, no matter the weather, or the task. He is positive and industrious (see question 4!) and a huge asset to the Farmland Trust.

So Jared, tell us about yourself.  I’m a Washington native and couldn’t hide my love for the state of Washington if I tried.  I grew up east of the Cascades on the Columbia River but have lived in Seattle for 15 years.  My wife, 2 dogs and I currently live in West Seattle and I work as an Assistant Merchandiser for PCC Natural Markets.

Why is organic farming and food of interest to you? I feel lucky to have grown up with access to lakes, rivers and farmland and also with some perspective on the impact of conventional farming.  When I think about the most enjoyable ways I like to spend my time, all of them seem connected to the health of our environment.  To me, organic farming and supporting the organic food system is one way to contribute to a much bigger picture.

Did you have any experiences with farms or farming growing up, or in your family? Growing up in the Columbia River basin, agriculture plays a large role in the community.  I didn’t grow up on a farm and my family wasn’t in the farming business but we spent a lot of time in smaller towns throughout the Yakima Valley and along the Columbia River gorge.  I learned farming is extremely tough work and I developed a huge amount of respect for farmers and their employees.

Do you have a fun farm story or experience you’d like to share? I have very fond memories of firing homemade potato or apple launchers into the Columbia River, does that count?

What is your vision/hope for farming and food production in the state of Washington? I would like to see Washington become the nation’s leader in agricultural and food production based education.  I think we have a really dynamic combination of outstanding universities, forward thinking people and extremely diverse weather that leads to some very cool opportunities like we’ve seen in the wine industry over the years.

If money were no object, what would you most like to see the Farmland Trust accomplish? It would be pretty cool if one day the Farmland Trust and the associated farms provided the majority of produce and meat, maybe even dairy sold at the co-op.

Thank you Jared!

 

 

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April Food and Farms in the News

Guess how much food the average American wastes every month: 10 lbs? 20 lbs? (keep guessing…) Try 36 lbs! Read about some easy solutions to this problem, including an app!

April saw positive announcements from some big food players: Tyson stops using human antibiotics, while Chipotle eliminates GMOs from its menu, and more.

When it comes to farm subsidies, it’s complicated. Fortunately, framing the issue in a storybook format with illustrations helps.

In fact, Grist has been unpacking a lot of complicated ideas lately, in their series about why farm size matters.

“Resilience” is more than just the next food buzz word. This author shares why it will be key if climate change “manure hits the fan”.

And yes, “local” also means different things to different people. Even the USDA can’t decide.

Coachella 2014 - Weekend 2We got a kick out of reading about these two food heroes side-by-side: the self-proclaimed Christian­conservative-libertarian-environmentalist-lunatic and thefarmous-progressive-cowboy-advocate. Guess who they are before you click!

Speaking of farmer rockstars, good food is making its way into the festival line up.

Confession: in April we made a joke about farming in space. But IT’S HAPPENING.

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Imagine this…

Nolan and his dad Dan Hulse harvest berries on their conserved farm in the Orting Valley. Photo: Scott Haydon

Nolan and his dad Dan Hulse harvest berries on their conserved farm in the Orting Valley. Photo: Scott Haydon

Imagine you are a young organic farmer just starting out. Your dream is to buy land of your own and you are ready
to do the hard work. You have worked on farms for years and saved everything you could. You know farmers who are
ready to retire and sell their land, but development pressure is driving up land prices everywhere you look. How do you
secure the land you need to get started?

This scenario is real, and far too common. Over 70% of remaining farmland will change hands in the next decade as
farmers age and retire, yet young farmers are struggling to access affordable land. This means that farms are disappearing
from the Puget Sound area’s rapidly-changing landscape—a threat to the sustainability of our region on many levels.
Now is the time to act.

Please help conserve farmland for future generations with a gift today.

For fifteen years PCC Farmland Trust has walked side by side with farmers, protecting threatened Washington farmland
by keeping it accessible and affordable for producers. We are closing the gap between landowners who are ready to sell
and the next generation of farmers. Right now, we have more conservation opportunities than ever before. We need
your help today. Please join us.

Thank you for protecting sustainable and organic farmland forever.

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Behind the Scenes: A delicious local partnership

What happens when you bring together organicWillliams Brothers Washington wheat grown on conserved farmland, with an award-winning local bakery, and our region’s favorite natural foods cooperative? A delicious partnership is born, with benefits spanning the local food community.

Our friends at Macrina Bakery shared this great story about their partnership with our conserved Williams Hudson Bay Farm, and our good friends at PCC Natural Markets.


Nestled between the folds of the rolling Palouse Hills and Blue Mountains sits the Walla Walla Valley. Ripe with meandering creeks that feed the Walla Walla River, this fertile land is home for much of Washington’s agriculture, including Williams Hudson Bay Farm. Owned and operated by brothers Tom and Ray Williams, this farm is part of the PCC Farmland Trust. Founded by PCC Natural Markets in 1999, the Farmland Trust is a way to help keep Northwest organic farms in the hands of farmers.

As Leslie Mackie searched for new ways to feature nutritious, locally sourced ingredients in our products, she learned about the Williams brothers’ whole-grain wheat processed by Fairhaven Mills. We began testing the organic whole wheat flour in some of our breads and found it added a wholesome nutty, sweet flavor perfect for our Whole Wheat Cider bread. Now, whenever you bite into a sandwich or burger made with our Whole Wheat Cider loaf, buns, or dinner rolls, you’re enjoying the Williams brothers’ harvest.

“I have always been a fan of PCC Natural Markets,” says Leslie Mackie. “But, with such a nice tie to the PCC Farmland Trust, it seemed like a natural progression to sell these delicious buns in PCC locations.”

More and more, consumers are interested in knowing where their food comes from, but Seattle has long been ahead of that curve. Leading the charge for sourcing better food from sustainable, trustworthy producers was PCC Natural Markets. What started as a food-buying club with just 15 families back in 1953 is now the largest consumer-owned natural food retail co-operative in the country with 10 locations spanning from Issaquah to Edmonds and plans to open its 11th location in Columbia City this summer.

As of 2014, you can find PCC shelves stocked with everything from our seasonal items like Colomba Pasquale to breadbasket staples like Rustic Potato Rolls and, of course, our Whole Wheat Cider Buns.

“Customers are loving this partnership,” says PCC’s Grocery Merchandiser Scott Owen. “We began selling Macrina breads in King County locations and they sold so wonderfully well we expanded the products to all of our stores.”

Upon a recent field trip to our production facility in Sodo, we were able to show PCC staff exactly how that flour, processed at Fairhaven Mills, and produced on a PCC Farmland Trust farm, is turned into a loaf of bread sold in their stores.

Sharing food made with the very best ingredients, sourced as close to home as possible is something we take great pride in and solidifies our bond with PCC.

“It is such a joy with work with PCC,” adds Leslie. “The staff is appreciative of our products and genuinely excited to sell our breads.”


 

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March Food & Farms in the News

Foodnited states

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A dramatic rollercoaster ensued after a WHO agency declared glyphosate (active in Round Up) as carcinogenic.  Then Monsanto, the maker of Round Up and related “ready” seeds, quickly responded asking for a retraction of the report. The rest of the world continues to add perspective to the conversation with examples like this article framing glyphosate alongside other known carcinogens, this study linking the pesticide to antibiotic resistance, and this video of a GMO advocate claiming Round Up was so safe he would drink it (and then refusing to drink it).

In good, refreshingly commonsense news, a study from our UW backyard finds that *drumroll* people who eat organic fruits and veggies indeed have fewer pesticides in their bodies. Phew! Logic prevails.

It never hurts to have one more reminder about how much water goes into your food (especially if it’s just a 90 second video.)

Did you hear? The Obama Administration is making available $66.5 million to help organic and specialty crop farmers.

Hey King County readers, check out your hot-off-the-presses Local Food Initiative Report.

Ready for a chuckle? This dad/son duo created the Foodnited States of America.

To round out Women’s History Month, here are four lovely profiles of lady farmers stepping up to sustain the land.

Finally, in fantastic “about-time” news, the USDA just closed a loophole in the Farm Bill, no longer allowing corporate non-farmers to receive farm payments. Hurray!

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Welcome, Helsing Junction Farm!

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Guests enjoy Helsing Junction Farm.

A Labor of Love: 42 acres of Thurston County farmland preserved!

Your support has enabled us to protect 42 acres of Helsing Junction Farm, our first in Thurston County.  A true labor of love for everyone involved, it’s taken four years to ensure the perpetual preservation of this special farmland. Your generosity makes accomplishments like this possible—thank you.

Farming in the Independence Valley dates back to the 1800s, and the Chehalis River that runs through it continues to provide critical salmon and steelhead habitat. Our conservation partners in Thurston County, including Capitol Land Trust and South of the Sound Community Farmland Trust, have already protected hundreds of acres in Southern Thurston County as working farm and ranch lands. In partnership with Thurston County Conservation Futures, this project builds upon their successes and will reflect positively on the 10 other organic farms in the town of Rochester.

It is the vision of farmers like those at Helsing Junction Farm, and the land and communities that they sustain, that drive home our mission. We can protect a piece of land, but we depend upon partner farmers to nourish the soil into the future. And to do that, they need supportive communities like you, who understand the value of clean, healthy food, and well-stewarded land.

Sue Ujcic and Annie Salafsky also represent a small but growing number of female farm operators in the US. Just one in seven principal operators is a woman, compared to just one in fourteen in 1992.  They’ve nurtured a very special community around their farm, bringing together their own families, and their long term employees and their families. Helsing Junction Farm is a gathering place, sharing food and farming through music, gleaning, and other events. These farmers believe that everyone should have access to fresh produce—they donate about 20,000 pounds of food to shelters and food banks each year. Through the belief that generosity breeds abundance, this culture of sharing permeates their community. Their online store supports several other local businesses, many of which were started by current or past employees.

Sue and Annie came together as farming acquaintances in 1992, both graduates of Evergreen State College. In a time where Big Ag’s entrance into the organic realm had begun challenging small growers who had found their market niche, farmers like Sue and Annie found a solution in their regional community. In ‘Community Supported Agriculture’, buyers pre-pay for a ‘share’ of the season’s bounty, providing important up-front capital, a guaranteed market, and a direct connection to the people for whom they grow food. Members then receive a weekly box of produce often harvested the day before, along with recipe ideas and updates about the farm. One of the first in the country, Helsing Junction’s CSA now has over 1000 members, and figures their farm feeds around 5000 people.

As if organic farming in a floodplain isn’t challenge enough, Helsing Junction Farm is interested in creating exceptionally nutrient-dense produce. Beyond rotating, cover cropping, and fertilizing their crops, they are also in their third year of applying trace minerals and macronutrients to their soil.

“Farming is a form of mining,” says Annie “It’s extractive.” To sustainably farm a piece of ground for the long term, you have to replenish what is constantly removed from the soil. They have found that this re-mineralizing has provided “increased yield, improved soil tilth, increased soil microflora, better drought tolerance, improved plant health and vigor that makes them more disease and insect resistant, better keeping qualities and increased nutrient density— which we experience as better flavor.”

Sue and Annie take pride and responsibility in their land, their crops, the health of their families, and the families that make up their community. And it matters deeply to them to preserve this way of life for the future.

Thank you, for helping to make this possible.

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