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March Food & Farms in the News


Behold, the art of Caleb Charland, who uses fruit and vegetables, to light themselves.

Wow:  “Contrary to the current widely-held misconception that glyphosate is relatively harmless to humans, the available evidence shows that glyphosate may rather be the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies.”  What’s glyphosate, you say?  You may know it by the name of “Roundup”–one of the most heavily used herbicides in the world.

Here’s a quick article about the ways in which international diets have become drastically similar over the past 50 years.

Salon talks with journalist Christopher Leonard about his new book, an expose chronicling how virtually all of our meat is produced by four companies, led by Tyson, and “how those companies manage to keep the farmers who raise their chickens under crippling debt while ensuring that poultry prices stay high.”

Spraying with neonic poisons apparently isn’t enough–we also are coating a huge amount of our seeds in the toxic bee-killing pesticide. Turns out it’s not even that effective in killing (the intended) pests.

Antibiotics used in agriculture starting in the late 40′s have set off a series of domino effects we are only just beginning to recognize in our modern world.  This NYT article, “The Fat Drug” examines connections between livestock, human weight gain, immunity, microbiomes, gut bacteria, and more.  Fascinating stuff.

The Seattle Times interviews our own Nash Huber, about his role as an “Agrarian Elder“!




Diane Dempster

–A profile by Rick Vanderknyff, PCC Farmland Trust Board Vice President

Diane Dempster has had a front-row seat for the growth and maturation of the organic farming movement in the Northwest over the last 25 years.

It’s been part of her professional life (as “grower liaison” for Charlie’s Produce) as well as her active nonprofit work with Tilth Producers (as past president and current co-vice president) and with PCC Farmland Trust, with which she served as a board member from 2008 until December, when she stepped down.

As a fellow board member who joined just a few months after Diane, I have been privileged to see her put her unique insight to work on behalf of the Trust’s mission to preserve organic farmland forever, with a laser focus on the “organic.” Though she has never been a farmer herself, she knows farmers and the farm businesses – and all the challenges that small, sustainable farms face. Continue reading


February Food & Farms in the News

Photo: BC Dairy Association

Milking to Music: cows are found to produce 3% more milk when music is playing in the barn.  They are partial to “slow, rhythmic music”–in particular “Everybody Hurts” by REM, and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel.  

A successful California farmer discusses the real need for math skills and economic savvy, in addition to passion, for up-and-coming farmers.

In honor of Presidents Day, Modern Farmer offers a compilation of some founding fathers’ thoughts on farming.  (Not to be confused with their list of 21st century celebrity gentlemen “farmers”.)

A fascinating look at just how much water goes into growing your favorite foods–as well as the concentration of production in California, and the effects of the recent droughts.

Behold, the power of distribution:  a great longer-form piece on food hubs and local processing.  “One reason the middle infrastructure of the sustainable food movement has lagged behind the rest of the movement is that romance doesn’t scale. A farm is lovely; a warehouse is not.”

Grist talks to Tim Crosby, director of Slow Money Northwest, about farming and making regional food systems more sustainable.

Finally, if you’re looking to spend some time with 10 very good short films–and vote for your favorite–consider clicking over to the Real Food Media Contest (in association with writer and educator Anna Lappe).



Sad news

Gary Fisher.   Photo: Kip Beelman

We are very saddened to share that Gary Fisher has passed away.  Gary and his wife Lois donated the easement of their Camelot Downs Farm to the Farmland Trust in 2010.  The Fishers have dedicated their farm and their retirement years to cultivating and teaching about heritage breed animals through 4H, farm tours, and community involvement.  Gary was passionate about educating the public about sustainable pasture management, holistic livestock health, and good stewardship.   

Gary lived about 4 lives worth during his 75 years, and his story is a testament to the many, many other lives he touched, as well as the many adventures he led.  At the Farmland Trust, we will fondly remember Gary as we knew him: in mud boots, showing us around his and Lois’ immaculate farm; gently interacting with their menagerie of animals with a twinkle in his eye and a smile.

We connect with all of our farmers from time to time, whether making a conservation monitoring visit, helping with a tour, or having conversations about easements or land matters.  But there’s always been something special about a visit to Camelot Downs Farm.  Continue reading


January Food & Farms in the News

Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Lots of food and farms in the news this January!  We’ll spend a little time examining the just-passed farm bill next month…

Demand grows for hogs that are humanely raised outdoors.  The New York Times takes a closer look.

The title says it all:  “U.N. warns us to eat less meat and lay off biofuels, or we’re in for it.

8 million acres of Chinese farmland–an area roughly the size of Belgium–is now too polluted to produce safe food.

But McDonald’s has announced that they are slowly making the shift toward using more sustainable beef.  Still too early to see exactly how or if this will play out, but perhaps a little reason for measured, cautious optimism?

“A way that agriculture could move from being part of the problem to part of the solution”–compost application might help to siphon carbon out of the atmosphere and incorporate it into the soil of ranch lands.

An op-ed by Glenn Lamb, Executive Director of the Columbia Land Trust, on How Congress can encourage landowners to not develop their land.

Mark Bittman’s latest explores the economic and moral intersections of the worlds of Tobacco, Firearms, and Food.

Fast Facts!  U.S. Places 21st in Ranking of World Food Systems.  125 countries were judged by: food quality, abundance of food, affordability of food and eating habits of citizens.

Farmers + “selfies”.  Behold, the “Felfie”.

There’s a lot of chatter lately about the EPA looking the other way on 2,4-D–one of the active ingredients of Agent Orange–which is still widely used in lawn and garden products.  NRDC provides an overview, and offers tips to avoid exposure in your daily life.

In a lovely paean to vegetables, famed chef and cookbook author Deborah Madison is asking you very nicely to please stop infantilizing magnificent and resilient edible plants by calling them “veggies”.



Upcoming Reise Farm Volunteer Restoration Opportunities

Photo: Anna Leon-Guerrero

Farmers need your help! PCC Farmland Trust will be hosting a series of invasive species management events this winter:
  • Thursday, February 13th – Reise invasive species removal work party
  • Friday, March 7th -  Reise restoration work party
  • Thursday, March 27th - Reise restoration work party
  • Thursday, April 17th - Reise restoration work party Continue reading

December Food & Farms in the News

The same pesticides killing bees are also now linked to developmental neurotoxicity in fetuses and young children.

Despite criticism that it doesn’t go far enough and contains loopholes, the FDA’s restriction of antibiotic use for livestock is still big news.

Now if only the FDA would start to tackle some of the other myriad industrial farming hazards, such as…the practice of feeding cows what is euphemistically referred to as “poultry litter.”

Nathanael Johnson of Grist explores his discomfort around the recent controversial Rolling Stone industrial animal farming expose.  A link to the RS article is at Grist should you choose to read the (very graphic) original.

Here’s an interesting illustration of just how globalized a single food product can be:  it takes at least 6 countries to make a single jar of Nutella.

A concept that’s gotten some media play is the marriage of subdivisions and farms.  We have mixed feelings — what do you think?

Lots of chatter about the recent WSU study finding that organic milk is nutritiously superior to conventional milk.

And now let’s take a moment to explore the maddening developments around bees, neonic insecticides, and human health a little more in depth… Continue reading


A Crop of New Farmers in the Puyallup Valley

Jeremy Sanford of Sanford’s Farm. Photo: Rick Vanderknyff

–By Rick Vanderknyff, Vice President PCC Farmland Trust Board of Directors

A crop of new farmers have planted themselves on the Trust’s preserved farms in and around Orting, and one of the things taking root is a growing sense of community.

That was obvious in visiting the new farm businesses during the bustling Oct. 12 public tour in Orting, where there were plenty of tales of new neighbors pooling resources, sharing expertise and swapping labor.

In 2011, the Trust crafted and adopted a new strategic plan, one that put a new emphasis on preserving farms in geographic proximity, with hopes of creating a critical mass of small, family-scale farm operations that could not only lean on each for help and advice, but together start to build (or rebuild) the local infrastructure and other conditions needed for a sustainable farm economy. Continue reading


November Food & Farms in the News


Grist attempts to break down what happened with the narrowly defeated I-522. “Why the measure lost is also related to the question of who voted. In the end, only 45 percent of registered voters cast their ballots — the lowest turnout in a decade. What does that mean?”

Good Food World profiles Nash’s Organic Produce.

Our own Maria Hines showcases food policy in three courses as a part of a recent James Beard dinner honoring food thought leaders.

Scientific American explores the ways in which the ag community is trying to increase and recapture the participation of African Americans in organic farming.

Modern Farmer takes a look at a handful of the “hundreds of farmers who have taken to blogging and penning newsletters as a way to document their agrarian life” in Blogging the Farm: The New Rural Writers and Their Urban Fans.  Pique your interest? Here’s a blog about farm blogs from around the world.  (Got that?)

Ever wonder where sayings like “get your goat” originate from?  Here’s a fun piece on agricultural idioms.

Speaking of idioms, here are some unlikely bedfellows: Crossfit enthusiasts and sustainable grass-fed meat producers.


2013 Annual Campaign

Dear Farmland Friend,

Cheryl Oellettte likes to greet her pigs, dogs, sheep, goats, cows, turkeys, ducks, chickens and barn cats personally, and often by name. Ebony, the 1500-pound midnight colored boar, saunters over in response her request for “kisses” and seems genuinely chastened when scolded for pestering Frank, the smaller boar. This is one of many idyllic farm scenes you may encounter while visiting Cheryl “The Pig Lady” in the Puyallup Valley—which are only fleeting distractions from the fact that each of her animals also has a more serious role to play on this sustainable farm.

Cheryl herself is a one-woman farming force of nature. In the past year alone, she transitioned from managing her business on 5 acres, all the way up to 100 acres, rehabilitating and cultivating formerly conventionally-farmed and fallow land. Through sustainable methods of animal rotational grazing, fertilizing and weeding, Cheryl has managed an inspiring transformation of this property.

And none of this farmland preservation could have happened without the backing of dedicated PCC Farmland Trust supporters. Continue reading