The Latest

News – both ours and from other sources.


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.”


 

link

We’re Hiring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have two open positions:

Community Engagement Manager

Development and Administrative Assistant

No phone calls please. First consideration will be given to applications received by April 27th.

link

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!

link

Welcome, Helsing Junction Farm!

Helsing1

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.

link

February Food & Farms in the News

 

Vintage 1930’s goat. There’s soul in those eyes.

This article is a real “ooooof” to the solar plexus, but a necessary viewpoint and an important conversation to have:  “What nobody told me about small farming: I can’t make a living.”

Between the cells of plants, live endophytic fungi–i.e. the stuff of which mushrooms are made.  What’s really exciting is that they might also help plants ward off disease, essentially functioning as a natural pesticide.

Mushroom mania!  Here’s a fascinating look at how mushrooms are commercially grown on a fungi farm.

NPR takes a look at whether or not farmers market sales have peaked–and why that actually might not be bad news for farmers.

There’s lots to consider when dealing with labels, certifications, and standards.  This Civil Eats article takes a brief look at some of the certifications besides Organic.

With its warming temperatures and ultra-rich soils, Alaska is beginning to attract more farming.  It’s still tough-going, though, and not for everyone.

The very first GMO apples are available in stores, beginning with the “Arctic Golden” and the “Arctic Granny”.  These apples are genetically engineered not to turn brown upon slicing.  Check out the truly overwhelming visual difference for yourself:


(A normal Granny Smith apple is on the left, the Arctic Granny on the right.)

And, finally, a short month of February means not just one fun closing article, but two!  First up, the world’s major cities represented by their (snack) foods.  And in honor of the Chinese New Year (and since there’s disagreement over whether this is the year of the sheep, or the year of the goat) Modern Farmer brings you some old-timey pics of both sheep and goats.

link

Healthy Soil, Healthful Food

Walla Walla onions at Williams Hudson Bay Farm. Photo: Melanie Conner

 

“A nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt

Roosevelt’s words might bring to mind images of pavement or resource extraction, yet our most common agricultural practices also are destroying our soil.

Modern industrial agricultural practices have been impacting our once-rich belowground ecosystem since the early 20th century and we’re just beginning to understand how it’s affecting our health.

When compared with the nutrient value of the foods our grandparents ate, what we consume today has substantially lower nutritional value. According to the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition,” today’s foods typically are lower in protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C. It’s now possible to buy an orange that contains zero vitamin C.

Why is this happening? One potential cause is changes in plant varieties. If breeders are focused on other factors besides nutritional value (yield, disease resistance, etc.), then the new varieties may decline in nutrient concentrations. Depleted soil may be another reason.

Farming practices

“Historic farm management practices have degraded soil organic matter, reducing the inherent fertility of the soil,” says Chad Kruger, Director of the Washington State University Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources. “The conventional thinking was that we could replace that lost fertility by using artificial fertilizer. However, there’s now a growing realization that managing for soil and food quality requires more than just replacing the big three nutrients — nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus (NPK) — with synthetic fertilizers.”

Continue reading

link

January Food & Farms in the News

Adorable cheese-making.

 

Last month, we visited some nuns on the ranch, and this month, we bring you Brother Alberic, the Cheesemaking Monk of Manitoba!

Our friends, Dick and Terry Carkner of Terry’s Berries are entering a new era, turning over the reigns to Mark and Katie Green and Wild Hare Organic Farm.  We wish them all the very best!

For the young, traveling, and farm-curious, WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) has long been a rite of passage. Modern Farmer provides a great basic “Do’s & Don’ts: WWOOFing” for those considering a stint of service.

The issue of aging farmers is always present, but young people entering into farming seems to be especially in the news lately…One idea launched by the National Young Farmers Coalition (petition at link) suggests that the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program include forgiving the educational debts of those choosing to go into farming as a profession.

The National Young Farmers Coalition also recently provided this handy “Farmer’s Guide to Working With Land Trusts.”  You can also find a link on our PCC Farmland Trust Resources webpage.

Love almonds?  Or maybe almond butter, or almond milk?  Each month there seems to be more concerning news about the staggering resource drain required to grow almonds.  In California, the impact is especially dire.

Since President Obama didn’t mention much of anything having to do with food or farms during the official State of the Union, Mark Bittman took it upon himself to address the current State of Food in our country.

Humanity in general seems to be playing with some pretty scary potential unintended consequences these days.  Case in point: nanoparticles, or specifically in this case, nanopesticides.  A mix of interesting possibilities and sci fi horror.

Not at all terrifying?  Farmers coming up with awesome farm names like “Neverdun Farm”, “Fruit Loop Acres”, or our personal favorite “Second Cloud on the Left Farm”.

link

Supporter Spotlight: Kari Pierce

KariPierce

Kari Pierce just completed a stint as our all-star office volunteer, helping us out with some research projects and some other extremely helpful work.  Thank you so much for all of your help, Kari!

Please tell us about yourself.

I recently moved back to my hometown of Bainbridge Island, WA after earning a master’s degree in Gastronomy with a concentration in food policy from Boston University.  I am happy to be back in the northwest, pursuing a career in sustainable food advocacy.

Please tell us why organic farming and/or organic food is of interest to you.

As a member of a community, I care about organic food and farming because I believe it is critical to many different aspects of building a vibrant community.  I want our land to be healthy and productive, our regional economies to be strong, and our people to have safe, delicious food to eat.  Organic agriculture is the intersection where many cross-cultural values and goals come together and find success.

How did you first learn about the Trust?

Word of mouth.  I wasn’t back in the Seattle area long before friends started telling me to “check out PCC Farmland Trust!”

Did you have any experiences with farms or farming growing up, or in your family?

I personally did not grow up around farming, but there are deep agricultural roots in my family.  Growing up I heard countless tales from my grandmother of life on the family farm in North Dakota, where her grandparents settled after emigrating from Norway.  My extended family still farm there today. Continue reading

link

December Food & Farms in the News

Photo: Lezlie Sterling

Organic Christmas trees.  Kind of surprising it took this long, and that they are still pretty unusual.

Nuns on the Ranch” sounds like it should be a song somewhere, but it turns out it is really a thing.  Nuns on a ranch, raising grass-fed beef, to be precise.

Have you ever wondered about what it is that farmers do during the winter?  (A: Lots of pretty diverse plans and activities.)

You may have seen those popular t-shirts around the Pacific Northwest, the ones that say “Eat More Kale“?  Well, Chick-fil-A thought the slogan was too close to theirs, suing the creator of the t-shirts.  They vastly underestimated the power of kale.

USDA makes glacial progress towards improving the American school lunch, announcing new initiative of Farm to School grants.

Grist, along with Michael Pollan, explore the idea of how we might make the most dramatic changes in the food system–by learning to eat less food, enjoying it more, and making meat a more rare treat.

Women’s Work Is Never Done On The Farm, And Sometimes Never Counted.

Modern Farmer features some agricultural comedians yukking it up about all things farm-related.

link

7 Ways to Give the Gift of Farmland

barn2

7 Ways to Give the Gift of Farmland

The best gifts to give and to receive are those that make a difference in the world.  Luckily there are many ways to support the Farmland Trust this season.

  • Take a loved one to the Local Chefs for Local Farms dinner at Joule in January
  • If you’re shopping on Amazon, sign in with this Amazon Smile link, and Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to PCC Farmland Trust.
  • Find out if your employer has a matching donation program.  Learn more.

If you’re shopping at any PCC Natural Markets:

  • Fill an 100% organic cotton PCC Farmland Trust tote with small gifts
  • Pick up a veggie tray or Powers PCC Farmland Trust wines for your holiday party (10% of the proceeds from each platter and $2 of each bottle of wine benefit PCC Farmland Trust)
  • Tuck a Chinook Book into a stocking (a portion of purchase benefits the Farmland Trust)
  • We would be remiss, of course, to not suggest a direct donation to PCC Farmland Trust as the easiest and most impactful way to celebrate the Holidays.

button-donate

When you give a gift to the Trust, you can also opt to receive a PCC Farmland Trust note card to personalize for your gift recipient.  Just check the “Make my gift in the name of someone special” box on our online donation form.

Whichever way you choose to give, we at the Farmland Trust wish you the happiest of holidays.

link