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.