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Bailey Farm: A rich past, a hopeful future

An institution in its community, Bailey Farm has been responsibly stewarded by five generations since 1913. Current owner and oldest living generation, Cliff Bailey, recalls working the land with his grandfather as a boy when it was a mere 52 acres of oxen pasture. A natural on the farm, Cliff expanded the property to a full-fledged dairy with his father in 1946.

At 270 acres, and 103 years from its inception, Bailey Farm not only still stands, it thrives. Today, the hugely expanded and diverse property serves the Snohomish community in myriad ways—from U-Pick fruit and vegetables to nutrient-rich, aerated compost.

Since the early 70’s, Cliff has thought hard about conserving his land to keep it farmed by his family for generations. Our protection of Bailey Farm serves as a proud declaration of our commitment to farmland conservation in agricultural valleys on the fringe of urban growth. For Cliff, it also realizes a plan more than 40 years in the making.

Supporting the Trust helps ensure that families like the Baileys can pass their agricultural legacy on to future generations. Help us keep Washington’s best agricultural land farmed into the future.

 

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We’re hiring! Farmland Stewardship Manager

Overview: The Farmland Stewardship Manager is responsible for the oversight, planning, and management of all properties in the PCC Farmland Trust’s portfolio of protected lands, which includes the stewardship of both lands conserved through conservation easements and through fee-simple purchase. The successful candidate will ensure the natural resources conserved by the Trust are protected in perpetuity by building positive relationships with landowners, maintaining diligent records, and developing resource restoration projects that meet the goals of the Trust. This is a full-time position which reports to the Associate Director and requires close collaboration with all team members and external consultants and contractors. PCC Farmland Trust has eleven full-time staff, including this position. The Trust’s office is located in downtown Seattle; this is a primarily office-based job. We are seeking a candidate who can join our team in May 2016.

Core Responsibilities:

Program Management 

  • Coordinate and oversee the Stewardship program in accordance with the Trust’s goals and policies.
  • Develop up-to-date Stewardship policies and procedures that meet the needs of conservation easement, Land Trust Alliance, and organizational policies.
  • Represent the Trust at events, conferences, and meetings that build our Stewardship and Conservation audiences.

Protected Land Stewardship

  • Conduct site visits and create Baseline Documentation Reports and annual Monitoring Visit Reports for all conserved properties. Maintain permanent and working stewardship files according to current LTA Standards and Practices.
  • Work with landowners and/or tenants to address and remediate outstanding violations and report to the Trust’s board and to federal and state conservation partners when needed.
  • Manage fee-owned farmland properties including identifying new farmer tenants, structuring agricultural lease agreements, scheduling maintenance services, managing utility accounts, negotiating service contracts, and facilitating property security.
  • Create up-to-date and clear maps for each conserved property, utilizing GIS and GPS technology.

Natural Resource Restoration 

  • Plan, coordinate, and implement habitat restoration projects that improve the soil, water, and biodiversity on conserved properties.
  • Engage volunteers and community partners in the implementation of restoration work.
  • Work with partners and volunteers to coordinate management, monitoring, and upkeep of existing restoration areas.
  • Manage the Trust’s pilot grant program, Advancing Farm Sustainability.

Desired Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in resource management or related program; Master’s degree preferred.
  • 2-3 years of hands-on experience in the conservation field, such as environmental resource management and restoration, forestry, or ecology; farmland property management and conservation easement management experience preferred.
  • Familiarity with national conservation and stewardship issues including the Land Trust Alliance Standards and Practices.
  • Ability to read and understand deeds, conservation easements, and related legal documents.
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate and work effectively with a broad range of stakeholders.
  • Strong computer proficiency and experience using ESRI ArcGIS software.
  • Highly organized and able to juggle multiple projects while maintaining attention to detail.
  • Ability to work outdoors in various weather conditions.
  • Experience with volunteer coordination preferred.
  • Experience with sustainable or Organic agriculture preferred.

Additional Requirements

  • A valid WA driver’s license and access to a personal vehicle.
  • Willingness to work varied hours, including some evenings and weekends.
  • Willingness to travel across the state.
  • Ability to spend most of the work week in the Seattle office.

Compensation

Salary is DOE and based on 40 hour/week and full-year work. Benefits include medical, dental, and vision coverage; 10 paid holidays and paid time off; ORCA transit card; and retirement.

To apply, please email resume and cover letter to Melissa Campbell at farmlandtrust@pccfarmlandtrust.orgApplications will be reviewed starting April 15th. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. No telephone calls, please.

PCC Farmland Trust is an Equal Opportunity Employer. People of all ages, races, gender identities, and sexual orientations are encouraged to apply.

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Partner Spotlight: Farmer Joel Huesby

Most people wouldn’t want to talk about work from a beach in Hawaii, but for Joel Huesby, organic farming is more than just work. It’s his passion, and it’s his life’s commitment. Between snorkeling with his family and facilitating workshops for Hawaiian farmers on organic livestock production, Joel enthusiastically shared his story with me.

Joel HuesbyTell us about yourself.

My great-grandfather founded our family farm in Walla Walla in 1908, and our kids are now the 5th generation. We’ve been growing organic food here since 1994, and became officially certified in 2000.

I care about food security and food self-sufficiency. As a farmer, I’m handy, thrifty, and inventive. If other people can’t do it, I’ll find a way to do it myself. And I always have my farmer hat on. Wherever I go, I’m farmer Joel.

Right now, my wife Cynthia and I are growing a variety of organic crops on our 399 acres, 172 of which have been conserved by the Farmland Trust. We’ve got sweet peas, squash, pumpkins, non-GMO heirloom black popcorn, hay for dairy cows, buckwheat, malting barley, and a variety of other organic wheats.

I’m not sure my farm would be as economically viable as it is today if it wasn’t for PCC Farmland Trust.

Please tell us why sustainable farming and food is of interest to you.

After serving as president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers and receiving an award for outstanding service, I had an epiphany. It made me realize what I’m not going to do with my life — and that is be a “normal” commodity farmer. I learned how detrimental farming can be if you don’t work with the land.

With organic farming, you have no recourse if you screw things up. That’s why you have to honor nature’s rules. For me, it’s about prevention, soil health, and plant diversity. It’s about listening to the land and making sure the bees and all the other puzzle pieces fit. For a while there, I was ready to give up on organic. But because of the Farmland Trust and our stewardship planning, I was encouraged to make it work as a business, and I’m so grateful for that.

When you farm this way, the rewards are amazing. Not just ecologically, but financially. It certainly hasn’t been easy, but my kids now see that it’s possible to live a fruitful life as a farmer. For me, successful farming isn’t about getting bigger, it’s about getting better. It’s about serving the health needs of your community, and building something that the next generation can take on.

What is your vision/hope for farming and food production in Washington?

I’d love to figure out a way to wean farmers off of the government. There is a dangerous culture of dependence there. The ag economy should be market-driven, rather than government subsidized. I want to know, “Who are my customers? What do they want?”

And no more commodity corn and wheat! That’s the stuff that makes us sick. If we start early with healthy food, we can really go places.

If money were no object, what would you like to see PCC Farmland Trust accomplish?

I’d love to see you continue to preserve farmland in South Puget Sound, but also to protect more land on the east side of the mountains. There is a volume of organic food here, but I know we can do more.

A healthy food system relies on the stability of farmers who will steward the land for the long haul. I think PCC Farmland Trust can play a big role in finding and connecting those folks to the land.

What are your favorite books about farming/sustainable agriculture?

One of my favorite books on sustainable farming is Gene Logsdon’s Contrary Farmer. He shares a personal account of how his family used sustainable agriculture to achieve a happy and ecologically healthy way of life.

What is your favorite thing to grow?

Right now, I’d have to say the black popcorn and the malting barley. The heirloom popcorn varieties are really special. They don’t cross-pollinate with GMO corn, and have the most complex flavors.

And the barley is a fairly new interest of mine. There are thousands of barley varieties out there, and the big breweries only use about 6 of them. I’ve been experimenting with local flavors, and it’s been a lot of fun. If it tastes good at room temperature, you know it’s a darn good beer.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Be passionate about what you do. I’m passionate about what I do, and I believe from my heart that this is the right way to be. This is the right way to treat the earth.

We’ve got to make do with what we already have in front of us. If everyone had that understanding, it would be huge. For us, and for the environment.

Learn more about Huesby Farms on our farms page, and hear more from Joel on organics and soil health on the PCC blog.

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Ensuring a Farming Future in the Puyallup Valley

A historic agricultural community on the fringe of the developing city, PCC Farmland Trust identified the Puyallup Valley as a key focus area for farmland conservation in 2009. Together with Pierce County, the Pierce Conservation District, Forterra, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and farmers and landowners, we have built great momentum in the region.

When farms are conserved within close proximity, farmers are better able to share resources and knowledge, strengthening their businesses and the agricultural community. Seven years into our conservation effort, we are beginning to see some of those benefits play out. Take a look at the infographic below to learn more, and stay tuned for future updates on our progress in the Valley.

2016 FT Puyallup Valley Infographic

 

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We’re hiring! Community Engagement Intern

Work with usOverview: We are seeking a self-motivated, organized, and enthusiastic intern to support our community engagement and conservation programs this summer. The successful candidate will play a crucial role in our work, gaining training and experience in volunteer coordination, event planning, innovative communications tactics, and land conservation and stewardship. This is a great opportunity for someone who is passionate about farmland preservation and sustainable agriculture and is looking for hands-on experience in this field.
 
Commitment and Compensation: This is a part-time, temporary position for 20 hours/week for 10 weeks this summer between June and September. The compensation is $15/hour. Schedule is flexible, but the successful candidate must be available to staff events some weekday evenings and weekend days.

Essential Responsibilities:

  • Assist with event planning for and staffing of farm tours, our On the Farm Series, and other
    events
  • Represent the Trust by running our vendor booths at festivals, farmers markets, and other
    community events
  • Recruit and coordinate volunteers
  • Produce creative and engaging content for the Trust’s social media channels
  • Assist our Stewardship Manager with annual monitoring site visits and reporting
  • Support our conservation work by completing research projects, assisting with landowner
  • outreach, and keeping our databases updated
  • Help us acquire new GIS data and prioritize our conservation work through GIS mapping
  • Complete other office tasks as assigned

Desired Qualifications:

  • Demonstrated interest in sustainable agriculture or local food systems
  • Strong communication skills (verbal and written) and ability to work both individually and with a
    team
  • Valid, insurable driver’s license/record
  • Experience with community outreach and engagement (preferred)
  • Experience with GIS mapping and data (preferred)

To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to farmlandtrust@pccfarmlandtrust.org by Monday, March 21st.

PCC Farmland Trust is committed to a diverse and welcoming work environment. People of color, people with varying abilities, and people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are encouraged to apply.

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Partner Spotlight: Brigid Meints from The Bread Lab

We connected with Brigid through her work at The Bread Lab, a project spearheaded by our longtime partner and current board member, Dr. Stephen Jones.

brigid Meints Tell us about yourself. I am currently a PhD student working under Dr. Stephen Jones at The Bread Lab, a part of the plant breeding program at Washington State University-Mt Vernon. My focus is on breeding and trialing malt and food barley and dry beans for production in northwestern Washington.

For my undergrad, I majored in Anthropology and Gender & Women’s Studies — so you could say I sort of fell into plant breeding. After graduating from Scripps College, I went back home to Corvallis, Oregon to look for work. With such a tough job market in my field, I jumped at an opportunity to assist a family friend with research at Oregon State University’s barley breeding program. Before I knew it, I was falling in love with barley, getting my Masters in Crop Science, and packing up my bags for Mount Vernon to start a PhD.

Why is sustainable food and farming of interest to you? Growing up, my mom always bought organic. It’s what I knew. But before I got into agriculture, it felt more like a buzzword than an actual concept to me.

When I got deep into my studies and started to see the harmful effects of mono-cropping and pesticides, I knew I wanted to focus my research on grain production within small-scale, sustainable farming systems.

What is your connection to farming, if any? My grandparents on my dad’s side were farmers in rural Minnesota, and my dad grew up there, too. My grandfather on my mom’s side got his PhD in plant pathology, focusing on peas and beans. Both of my parents got their PhD’s in science-related fields — my dad in Biochemistry, my mom in Botany. I grew up on 35 acres in rural Oregon, with multiple green houses and a huge garden. In a way, the land is in my blood.

As a kid, one of my chores was to weed. I used to hate it, but now, I’m out in the fields a lot for my research, and I love it. I find it cathartic. If only my mom was out here to help me now!

What is your vision/hope for farming and food production in Washington State?  brigid MeintsOn a personal level, I’d love to see more people growing and eating barley. People tend to think of barley in the context of animal feed or beer. Or maybe just their grandmother’s beef and barley stew. But there is so much more you can do with barley. It works wonderfully as a rotation crop for farmers, and serves as a great source of fiber, which most American’s don’t get enough of in their diets.

Beyond barley, I would love to see a greater awareness of what farming really is, across the board. From labor and practices, to what’s being grown in this region, there is so much to learn about our food system. Seattle is so close to incredible agricultural communities, like Skagit Valley — I’d love to see people get closer to the rich agricultural industry that exists here.

How did you first learn about PCC Farmland Trust? Dr. Steve Jones always raves about how wonderful PCC Farmland Trust is, as a member of your board. Last fall, I got to meet the staff at the PCC Farmland Trust retreat that was held at our research station. From there, I researched your organization, and learned about the great work you all do.

If money were no object, what would you most like to see the Trust accomplish? Steve likes to give the example of Kent Valley, how it used to be a major agricultural center, and now it’s completely developed. Skagit Valley is so important, both to my work, and to me on a personal level. I’d be devastated if what happened in Kent Valley happened there, too.

Your farmland conservation work is so important. Keep doing it!

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Bailey Farm: Farming into the Future

The house smelled of pork roast and sweet blackberry dumplings. Dad milked the cows while mother tended to the garden out back. The fire crackled from cedar wood collected with grandpa that morning. Coins from the day’s lemonade-stand sat in a pile on the kitchen table. For Cliff Bailey, these were some of his fondest childhood memories. “Happy times,” he called them.

Today, Cliff has the joy of knowing that future generations will be able to carry forward the rich history of his family farm — forever.

Cliff and Rosemary Bailey

Cliff and Rosemary Bailey

A Centennial Farm, Bailey Farm began in 1913 when Cliff’s grandparents purchased 52-acres in the Snohomish River Valley. Five years later, Cliff’s father, Earle, expanded the modest stretch of feed crop and oxen pasture into a full-fledged dairy operation. Together with his wife and children, Earle expanded the farm to the nearly 400 acres it is today.

103 years and five generations from its inception, the farm not only still stands, it thrives. As a nod to the dairy that operated there for nearly 80 years, Holstein cows graze along the hillside in springtime, while silage corn grows below. In the summer months, community members fill the 40-acre U-Pick garden, leaving with buckets of cucumbers, strawberries, green beans, and peppers. Come October, kids ride wagons through the pumpkin patch and chase each other through corn mazes — operated by Cliff’s granddaughter, Annie. Year round, Bailey sells high-quality, aerated compost.

Cliff and Rosemary, high school sweethearts, had the idea to conserve their land while talking with other landowners at a Holstein Association conference in Maine in the 70s.

“The idea stuck with me,” said Cliff. “I think it’s pretty important to keep as much agriculture as we can in the communities where we live. Conserved land is cheaper for farmers, produces better food, and sustains a more wholesome way of life. It just makes sense.”

Strawberry fields at Bailey Farm

Strawberry fields at Bailey Farm

For years, Cliff and Rosemary have watched rich soils of the Snohomish Valley disappear. Thriving agricultural lands seem to turn to housing developments overnight, they recall. For them, knowing those developments are irreversible makes it even more heartbreaking. They remember the days when Kent and Auburn valleys were rolling farm fields, not shopping malls. They would hate to see their property, too, slip into a faded memory.

“We want our farm to continue to serve as the place where community members come for wholesome food, to play with their kids, and to understand what agriculture is all about.”

Because of the wonderful collaboration between PCC Farmland Trust and Snohomish County, Bailey Farm will be able to do just that for generations to come. From Cliff and Rosemary’s three children, who have maintained the farm over the years, down to their months-old great-granddaughter, Kate, there is huge opportunity to keep Bailey Farm an epicenter for agriculture and community in Snohomish County.

Cliff and Rosemary's son, Don Bailey

Cliff and Rosemary’s son, Don Bailey

The Baileys all believe that now is the perfect time to focus on farmland conservation in Snohomish, in order to keep it a thriving agricultural community. We agree. Our goal at PCC Farmland Trust is to build off of this keystone project to launch into further conservation work throughout the region.

When I asked Cliff and Rosemary how it makes them feel to know that Bailey Farm will stay in their family for generations, they looked at each other and smiled. “It’ll be fun to watch,” they said together. “Each of them will carry this on, we know it.”

To learn more about Bailey Farm, visit our farms page or check out this historic timeline.

A special thanks to our funding partners at Snohomish County, and Linda Neunzig for her instrumental work in conserving this farm.

Photos by Molly Goren.

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Sustainable agriculture gains momentum in the Puyallup Valley

Between 1997 and 2007, Pierce County lost nearly 23 percent of its farmland, much of it in the abundant Puyallup Valley. At this time, one quarter of the county’s farmland was slated for development. With the announcement of these startling numbers, PCC Farmland Trust began working with partners in an effort to curb the conversion of some of the state’s best farmland. About 2,000 acres were identified as top priority for conservation.

Between 2010 and 2015, the Farmland Trust invested $4.9 million to conserve 397 acres  —  20 percent of the acreage identified in the long-term goal. Seven family farms on that land produce an array of products, including eggs, honey, herbs, vegetables, pork, poultry, beef, animal feed, berries and hay. They represent a shift back toward sustainable and diversified land management and continued celebration of local agriculture in the region. Across Pierce County, the total market value of agricultural products is $91 million — making farming a critical economic driver.

sustainable ag gains momentum in puyallup valley

Renewed farming interest

Three farm families tell us they moved their farm operations to the Puyallup Valley, in large part due to the conservation work of PCC Farmland Trust and the political support of the county and the City of Orting toward agriculture.

In 2009, Kim Shelstad and his wife fell in love with a farm in the heart of Orting. While it had the potential to be prime grazing land, it needed substantial cleaning and clearing. The couple restored the property and their hard work will have a lasting benefit now that the Farmland Trust has conserved the farm in perpetuity.

PCC Farmland Trust recently surveyed 250 farmers across Washington to gauge interest in the Puyallup Valley and other regional focus areas, and to identify ways to support new and expanding farm businesses. We, and our partners in the area, are committed to building and retaining the region’s agricultural legacy.

Leveraging community

A strong sense of agricultural neighborliness can be credited for much of this renewed interest. Beyond the rapidly increasing price of land, startup costs can be extremely prohibitive for new or expanding farms. In the Orting area, there are several farmers who share resources, from tractors and equipment to expertise and an extra hand.

As Kim Shelstad began making improvements on his new farm, he joined forces with another recent Puyallup Valley farmer transplant to pool their resources to buy tools and equipment, eventually helping one another build two hoop houses on each of their farms.  Kim recalls reaching out to countless other farmers for support and advice when he first started, and now he gets to pay it forward. He recently hosted a tour for young farmers who will call on his experience as they start or expand their own operations.

When farming communities are fragmented by development, this type of sharing can be limited, or lost. Similarly, without a critical mass within a regional service area, agricultural resources and support can be harder to come by.

Environmental ethic

These and other farm properties also are bringing environmental restoration to the Puyallup Valley watershed. On Farmland Trust conserved properties alone, 6,300 feet of restoration and enhancements have been made by hundreds of Farmland Trust volunteers and experts, improving more than half of all on-farm riparian habitat. Many farms are taking their environmental efforts to the next level, receiving Organic, Salmon Safe, and other sustainability certifications, employing resource conservation efforts, and managing for safe flooding.

In addition to their organic production and soil and water conservation practices, Dan and Kim Hulse have installed solar panels on one of their barns at Tahoma Farms. They produce 10,000 kilowatt/hours of electricity annually, offsetting one-third of the farm’s energy consumption. They are reinvesting these savings in other efficiencies, like converting their 1940s cultivating tractor to run as an electric vehicle. These are all part of an important broadening of the meaning of sustainable agriculture.

What’s next?

The Pierce County community continues to come together to invest time, expertise and resources in advancing the interests of agriculture and sustainability in its most important farming regions, like the Puyallup Valley.  PCC Farmland Trust has an additional 300 acres queued up in the conservation pipeline for 2016 and 2017. Of the 2,000 priority acres originally identified, this would bring our progress to 40 percent. Together, we can sustain this momentum.

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Staff Spotlight: Molly Goren

Molly is our new Communications Manager, whose job it is to educate key audiences about our conservation work and its impact on local farmers and communities. Learn a little bit more about Molly, here:

Molly GorenTell us about yourself. My professional background is in communications and the arts. I spent 3+ years as a project manager at a strategic communications agency in Seattle, helping nonprofits reach target audiences and refine their messaging. I am an avid photographer who pays attention to details, and thrive when surrounded by people who love what they do. I am a third generation Seattle-lite, on a perpetual mission to find the perfect cup of coffee.

Please tell us why organic and local food and farming is of interest to you. After living and working in a subsistence farming community in Uganda, I gained new insight into what it means to know the food you eat. Inspired by that experience, I have broadened my definition of “eating well” to include a greater awareness of the people and systems behind my food. From reading labels more closely to supporting local producers and farmers, I feel closer to my food every day.

What is your connection to farming? Do you have experiences with farms in your family or growing up?  In the fall of 2015, I served as an intern on an organic farm and agroturismo in Tuscany, immersing myself in the worlds of sustainable agriculture and historic preservation. For three months, I lived off of the land — preparing vineyards for harvest, pressing olives into oil, and gaining a deep sense of respect and appreciation for farmers through it all.

What is your vision/hope for farming and food production in the state of Washington? My vision for farming and food production in Washington is that we find a way to tap into the enormous percentage of our food supply that’s wasted in an effort to give more people greater access to healthy food. If you’re also passionate about reducing food waste, check out the blog I co-author with my sister about leftovers.

What are your favorite books or documentaries about food/farming/sustainable agriculture? One of the most influential books I’ve read about food is Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals.

Anything else you’d like to share? If you want to stay connected and hear more about the Trust’s work, sign up for our monthly newsletter!

 

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December food and farms in the news

  • Looking to dive into some food and farms reading in the New Year? These 20 top books from 2015 should get you started.
  • “GMOs” have come to represent a set of ideas, but in practice, it’s extremely hard to define them. Here’s why.
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