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News – both ours and from other sources.

July food and farms in the news

1mL6wA.So.5July was a rough month in terms of the drought. Our farmer friends are hanging in there, and grateful for your support. Here’s hoping for rain ahead.

Meanwhile, an Oregon start-up is working with OSU to develop new sponge-like water conservation technology for farmers.

Our water situation is relative, however, and isn’t stopping land buyers from California and elsewhere from scooping up Washington farmland. Cropland prices are up more than 36% since 2010.

Earlier last month, the Pierce County Council decided to hold off and continue studying whether to rezone farmable acreage as agricultural land. Stay tuned for 2017…

We’re betting you’ve heard of the Dark Act… here’s where things stand going into August.

Meat can be a touchy topic, but Grist just dove right in! Their latest series covers all the big questions.

The USDA aims to bridge the digital divide in rural areas, making $85 million in grants to support rural broadband.

Not to be confused with Google Street View, “Google Sheep View” lets you gaze at grazers who photobombed the Google van all around the world.


Now forever conserved: Shelstad Farm

Kim Shelstad will tell you that the number one lesson he’s learned as a farmer is to listen to the land.  Despite his constant crowd-sourcing of pasture and livestock management tips from any and every likeminded farmer he can grab the ear of, when it comes down to it, he’s realized that every piece of land is different, and so must be every farmer.

Kim and Janet Shelstad

Kim himself is far from conventional, both in his agricultural practices and his journey to farming. He’s a Boeing guy, recently retired, who had his fill of decades at a desk and decided to spend his remaining decades on the land.

Six years ago, he and his wife Janet bought 36 acres in the Orting Valley, nestled between Horsehaven Creek and the Puyallup River, where they knew the Farmland Trust was focusing farmland conservation efforts. This was more than a retirement project for Kim—this was a second career. The original farmhouse was unlivable, the pasture was in shambles, and Kim knew little about agriculture. But he was full of the most important ingredient to being a farmer: determination. Continue reading


Field Notes: the importance of diversification

By Eve Boyce, Stewardship Coordinator

I recently spent two days in warm Walla Walla, soaking up the sun while conducting annual monitoring visits for the Farmland Trust conserved properties in Southwest Washington. Each year, we visit every property we have conserved to ensure that all the requirements of our conservation easements and leases are being met. But more than an inspection, this is a time to talk with our farmer partners, learn more about their businesses and gain further insight into the many facets of farming as a profession.

These conversations are invaluable. As a non-farmer but someone who works closely with farmers every day, this is my chance to pick the brains of the experts. Luckily, the farmers we work with are incredibly obliging and answer each one of my sometimes-silly questions, occasionally with a laugh and usually with a smile. These visits are a sobering reminder of the hundreds of things farmers must keep track of each day and I constantly find myself in awe, wondering how they pull this off.

On this trip, I visited two different farms but noticed a common thread running through our conversations. As an answer to some iteration of my most common question, “How do you do it?” the farmers emphasized the importance of diversity in their farms. To both operations, growing and raising multiple products mitigates risk, improves cash flow, improves soil, spreads out the workload and allows the businesses to foster relationships with a number of different buyers.

Continue reading


Supporter Spotlight: Susan and Greg Harris

Susan and Greg are super supporters. They are volunteers, donors, and site stewards, ensuring that restoration projects and native plantings stay healthy in between work parties.

Susan and Greg HarrisTell us about yourselves:
Greg was born in Seattle and spent much of his childhood in central and southern California but has lived in Western Washington for almost all of his adult life, and I was born and raised in Tacoma. We currently live in our dream home on three wooded acres on a hill near Orting, complete with deer wandering through the backyard on a regular basis. Greg is semi-retired but is also self-employed in sales, and I work as an audiologist (hearing specialist) with MultiCare in Puyallup.


How did you first learn about the Trust?
PCC Farmland Trust preserved three farms in Orting on land that’s directly below our house, and have since added a fourth down the road. All of the properties had at one time been slated to be rezoned for warehouse/industrial and residential development. We were so grateful that our view will forever be beautiful farmland instead of ugly warehouses, we decided we’d help the Trust with future endeavors in any way we could. This has mainly taken the form of volunteering at work parties, and we are now site stewards at the Reise Farm property, where we’ve helped plant many trees during volunteer work parties.

Did you have any experiences with farms or farming growing up, or in your family?
I grew up as a city girl, but Greg has fond memories of picking all kinds of tree fruit and nuts from the orchards in California where he spent much of his childhood.

Do you have a fun farm story or experience you’d like to share?
Neither of us have spent a lot of time on farms until recently, but the volunteer work parties we’ve participated in for PCC Farmland trust have been a lot of fun! Many hands do make light work, and it’s great to meet people from all around the Northwest and see how much we can accomplish together. For anyone who hasn’t yet volunteered, we highly recommend it! We’ve also participated in a couple of farm tours that PCC Farmland Trust has sponsored, and we really enjoyed meeting the farmers and hearing about their farming processes and their goals for their farms.

Thanks Susan and Greg!


Welcome new board members!

What do impact investments and wheat breeding have in common? Apart from being important ingredients to the future of local food systems, they are also the specialties of our two newest board members.

2015summer-bread2Meet Steve Jones:

Have you heard of The Bread Lab? If you missed its coverage in The New York Times, New York Magazine, and Dan Barber’s The Third Plate, among other features, it’s a first-of-its-kind WSU research facility around revitalizing and optimizing local grains and how we use them. As Director of the program, Dr. Jones and his students are experimenting with improved flavor, nutrition and functionality of regional and obscure wheats for everything from local beer and spirits, to Chipotle’s tortillas to, of course, incredibly flavorful and nutritious loaves of bread.  Steve is an expert in plant breeding and food systems, and we’re delighted to have him join us.

Meet Brad Harrison: Brad-Harrison-2125981-220 (1)

Where investment can be used for social and environmental good, Brad is doing it. He is a Mission Related Investment (MRI) Analyst at Threshold Group where he focusses on the design of carbon divestment strategies and research of low-carbon reinvestment opportunities within clean technology, sustainable forestry and agriculture, land and water conservation, access to capital, community lending, and community responsive, place-based development. He previously worked at Ecotrust and Green Building Services, and holds degrees from Cornell and Yale. As the Trust strategizes around diversified conservation funding sources, we are especially excited to have Brad’s expertise and passion.



June Food and Farms in the News

Happy farmer









June was full of good news, so we’re going to try something new this time: a full list of positive news bites! So, put on your smile, read on, and share the good news love with the food and farms pessimists in your life.

Let’s start with news from the USDA that local food sales have more than doubled since 2008.  They attribute this to more than 4,000 local and regional food businesses and projects in every state across the US of A. Good work, team.

To reinforce this trend, the latest release of the Eat Well Guide and app directs eaters to more than 25,000 restaurants, markets, and farms with a focus on sustainability. Excellent.

Still not convinced? Civil Eats editor, Naomi Starkman shares a laundry list of regional stories they’ve reported on the past six years that prove the local food revolution is here.

The FDA is finally cracking down on trans fats. They just told the food industry to “get ‘em out!” by 2018.  Arteries are cheering everywhere.

Bees!” you say, “there can’t possibly be any good news when it comes to pollinators…” Actually, June news tells us that the bee crisis may not be as bad as we thought.

Denmark has committed to doubling organic farming by 2020, so that it may serve more organic food in its public institutions. Thanks for setting the bar, Denmark.

Washington passed a budget! Phew. We thought funding for farmland conservation might be pretty bad (like, nothing), and it turned out to be not so bad (like, enough to fund a couple key projects statewide).

Two WSU professors released a study showing that organic agriculture has the potential to be much more profitable than conventional.

Now pay attention, because this is awesome: new research shows that 90% of Americans could eat food grown or raised within 100 miles of their homes!! Let’s save that farmland, people!


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.


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.



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!


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.