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.