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January Food & Farms in the News

Adorable cheese-making.

 

Last month, we visited some nuns on the ranch, and this month, we bring you 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”.

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Supporter Spotlight: Kari Pierce

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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

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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.

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7 Ways to Give the Gift of Farmland

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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.

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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.

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Agricultural History in the Puyallup Valley

The Puyallup was long the site of hops farming in the shadow of Mt. Rainier.

For thousands of years the Puyallup Valley was home to a group of Native Americans, whom the nearby Yakima Tribe called the “pough-allup,” or “generous people”.  The Puyallup Tribe’s generosity was in part made possible by the abundance of forests and fish, berries, game, nuts and other foods found throughout their river valley home.

It wasn’t long before white settlers also noticed the great wealth of this land, including its potential for logging, trapping, and farming.  Hudson Bay Company trappers were active in the area starting around 1830, and by 1852 the first homesteaders began staking their claims.

The Puyallup Valley’s relatively mild climate and its proximity to Mount Rainier made for excellent growing seasons and alluvial soils; with the addition of some enterprising farmers, an agricultural boom was soon born. 1865 marked the introduction of hops-farming, which was to become the dominant crop and primary identity for the region for many years. Hops didn’t just become a local success—for about 20 years, the Puyallup Valley became the hop-growing epicenter of the world, producing huge yields and even huger fortunes. When a devastating pest epidemic destroyed all of the hops in 1891, farmers turned to berries and flower bulbs as their primary crops.  Continue reading

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November Food & Farms in the News

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Sue Ujcic of Helsing Junction Farm. Photo: Audra Mulkern

(On account of our walk down memory lane with our Top 10 Links of 2014, this month’s Food & Farms in the News is a bit abbreviated…)

We’re thrilled that PCC FT friend and “Photography On the Farm” instructor, Audra Mulkern, has been all over the national press lately.  Huffington Post and Grist are just a couple of the places you can read more about her Female Farmer Project.

We like to talk about how well a sharing economy can work for a community of farmers.  Some farmers in Maine are even applying the principle of sharing to farming equipment.  Modern Farmer takes a look at this clever tool-lending library.

Bringing another meaning to the word “cloud” in relation to agriculture, NPR’s The Salt blog takes a quick look at big data, farming, and who owns the information that gets uploaded from the tractor to the cloud.

Congratulations, Happy Birthday, and Kudos to Tilth Producers of Washington–they turn 40 years old this November!

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10 Most Popular Links of 2014

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Jack Johnson goes All in for Farms.

Looking back over a year’s worth of monthly “Crops of News”, the most popular links turned out to be a blend of diverse and often funny content.  We enjoyed a lot of quirky things like farmer selfies, and a farmer playing the trombone for his cows, but we also seemed to want to keep informed, get educated, be moved, or join in.  Without further ado (and presented in no particular order) the 10 most popular links of 2014.

* This first one squeaked in at the end of 2013, but people really seemed to love reading Modern Farmer’s article about the origins of farm-themed idioms, like “black sheep”, “get your goat”, or “high on the hog.”

* One word: felfies.  (Farmer + Selfie)

* This one was a personal favorite…Vox had a series of 40 maps that “explained food in America”.  Not sure if that aim was reached, but some of them sure were fascinating.

* We reflected upon the considerable legacy of Gary Fisher.

* We met our new Board President, Rick Vanderknyff.

* We learned all about our long-time supporter and former board member Bill Appel.

* We went All in for Farms, as did Jack Johnson (above)!

* Everyone seemed to want to read all about PCC Farmland Trust’s accomplishments in 2013, and flocked to our 2013 Annual Report.

* In a slightly more controversial news piece, an author at Modern Farmer implored us to please Stop Romanticizing Farms.

* And last, but not least, who couldn’t be charmed by this video of a farmer playing Lorde’s “Royals”…on his trombone…to his cows:

 

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Help conserve threatened Puyallup Valley farmland during our 2014 Annual Campaign

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Yes!  I want to help save local organic farmland forever.


Dear Friend
,

Living in Washington, you enjoy the abundance of a state crossed by idyllic agricultural valleys. We rely on farming communities in these valleys for clean, healthy food to nourish ourselves and our loved ones. But our farmland is threatened—especially farms near urban areas.

Local ecosystems and economies are out of balance. Each day, hundreds of acres of our best farmland are lost to development. Farmers cannot afford letterDropstoneto keep their land. Natural resources are lost—permanently. We must act together now to preserve our food-producing valleys.

Right now, there is an urgent need for farmland conservation in the Puyallup Valley.  With fertile soil and stunning views of Mt. Rainier, the valley is rich with agricultural history and promise. It is also a target for intense commercial and residential development. That is why, for the next several years, PCC Farmland Trust will dedicate resources there.

Please help keep Puyallup Valley farms in the hands of farmers by making a gift today.

The Trust is leading the call to action in the Puyallup Valley— we’ve conserved 320 acres and five farms there already. We have come a long way, but there is still much more to be done.

Our vision for organic farming is bigger than one farm or one farmer: Imagine a Washington where organic farmland is abundant, soil and water quality are improving, habitat is restored, and pollinators are thriving. Imagine a Washington where generations of farming families can stay on their land. This can be our future. Today, we ask you to take the next step toward this future.

letterpurpleWe have already started. Working together with partners and supporters, we have conserved 15 farms and over 1,300 acres of Washington farmland. Without people like you, we could not have preserved this precious land. Will you help us conserve more farms forever by donating today?

If you join us now, we can preserve and restore threatened farmland in the Puyallup Valley. We can stand behind farmers who use sustainable methods and protect natural resources for future generations. We can invest in the people and places that grow healthy, organic food and strengthen local economies and communities.

We have already started, but we need your help to do more.  Please join us.button-donate@2x

 

 

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October Food & Farms in the News

Wakka Wakka. This month we bring you a photo gallery of animals “laughing.”

From Modern Farmer:  5 writers who farmed.  Some usual suspects; some not.  A teaser:

“There is a flower that bees prefer,
And butterflies desire;
To gain the purple democrat
The humming-birds aspire.”

Speaking of authors, and Wendell Berry, Grist offers us a really lovely piece about our “modern-day Thoreau“.

People tend to assume that the Amish would farm using methods similar to those used in organic farming.  Turns out that’s generally not true at all.  However, Amish farmer Samuel Zook, who recently eschewed the use of pesticides and fungicides, talks about how he can smell the difference between healthy plants and unhealthy ones.

If we want to save the bees, we can’t only worry about banning the neonicotinoid pesticides proven to be of harm; we need also look at agriculture as a whole system. Other elements that make for happy bees include encouraging other complimentary pollinators, and providing more canopy cover and ground vegetation.

McDonalds reveals what’s actually in a Big Mac.  Click if you dare.

Continue reading

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3 Reasons Farms are Better Together

The farmers of Tahoma Farms, Sanfords Farm and Dropstone Farms, all work together to keep the Puyallup Valley a vibrant agricultural community. Photos: Scott Haydon, Dennis Lussier, Maura Rendes

Known for its productive, well-drained soil, the Puyallup Valley is an area rich with agricultural history and promise. It is also a target for commercial and residential development. Over 70% of Pierce County’s farmland has been lost since 1950, with nearly one third of that loss occurring since 1997.

Why concentrate our efforts in one area, like Pierce County? There are many reasons. But it all boils down to this—farmers make the best neighbors to other farmers.

Here are three core benefits of keeping farms together:

1.  Economic Benefits

When multiple family farms are in close proximity, it makes it easier for farm businesses to work together. This includes food wholesalers, tractor supply companies, feed stores, lime spreaders, feed and hay delivery trucks, and even contract hay balers and harvesters.  Plus, agritourism—tastings and tours, farm stays, harvest dinners, and other seasonal celebrations—thrive when farms are located in concentration.

2.  Ecological Benefits

Conserving farmland in concentration yields multiple environmental benefits. First, wildlife corridors are protected and habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects (which organic producers rely upon) is less fragmented. Sustainable farmers are natural stewards of the earth. Co-locating and concentrating multiple good stewards of the land can magnify improvements to waterways, reduce runoff and erosion into sensitive areas, and protect sustainable farmers from neighboring land uses.

3.  Community Benefits

Having a strong, local community of farmers who are invested in a specific region is essential when political and land use decisions are made. A strong farming community can defend themselves against decisions that negatively impact small farms, like urban growth boundary expansions, subdividing agricultural land, or converting farm land to other uses. Plus, having a collection of thriving local farms in close proximity can help demonstrate the viability of the farm economy. It’s about strength in numbers.

PCC Farmland Trust is leading the call to action in the Puyallup Valley. We’ve conserved 320 acres and five farms there already, including the Reise property and a network of four connected properties that are home to Tahoma Farms, Little Eorthe Farm, and Dropstone Farms. This valley is where we feel the need for conservation is especially urgent, and where we believe the Farmland Trust can have the most real impact on agricultural viability in Pierce County.

Want to support us in our work in the Puyallup Valley?

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