South Puget Sound
In Pierce County, industry observers confirm that the amount of land devoted to agricultural production is steeply declining. About 37,000 acres of agricultural land remain, with only 29,000 of those acres still in production. Farmland--especially sites with highly productive soils in the Puyallup Valley--is being converted for developed uses. Pierce County has long enjoyed a rich agricultural tradition; some family farms in the area are over 100 years old. But these agricultural traditions are in great danger. Throughout the county, what remains of agricultural production is frequently hemmed in – an island amongst residential and commercially developed land.
Agricultural activity in Pierce County is concentrated in the Puyallup Valley, which benefits from fine, alluvial sandy soils. Much of the production of vegetables, berries, nursery plants and other crops remains centralized here. But some of the most intense development in Pierce County is also taking place in the same valley, and the Puyallup has seen a steady conversion of open land to development uses. Even more alarming, a full one-fourth of Puyallup Valley’s current farmland is already committed for future development.
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.
Throughout 2008 and 2009, PCC Farmland Trust worked in close collaboration with Pierce County, in order to secure funds through the Washington State Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) and Pierce County’s Conservation Futures Program to preserve our Orting Valley Farms property. Today, Orting Valley Farms is made up of Tahoma Farms, Sanford’s Farm, and Little Eorthe Farm.
In 2012, the Farmland Trust completed the purchase of the historic 120-acre Reise Farm, located in the Puyallup Valley of Pierce County, near the City of Orting. The Reise Farm is where Cheryl the Pig Lady farms on 90 acres.
The Sturgeon Farm project is our latest victory for organic farmland preservation in the Puyallup Valley. Because of our community’s generous contributions and the help of our partners, including Pierce County and USDA, we were able to save Sturgeon Farm on July 1st, 2013. Lauren Manes and Garth Highsmith of Dropstone Farms have recently moved onto the property and started farming.