Let Us Farm’s 89 acres of ag land and habitat protected forever

A grain silo-turned-observatory towers above an old manure lagoon, now a tranquil pond and habitat for native birds. Goldfinches, red-winged black birds, and hummingbirds flutter from tree to flowering tree. A telescope on the deck peers into an osprey nest. Bee boxes sit stacked under a pear tree, swarmed by tiny pollinators.

These 89 acres weren’t always teeming with wildlife. Over the last two decades, farmers and conservation advocates Steve Hallstrom and Cecelia Boulais have stewarded this land, producing food for their community and bringing ecological health to its surrounding fields, forests, and waterways.

Steve and Cecelia’s introduction to food production began in the Snoqualmie Valley, where they grew vegetables and plants at a small-scale while balancing their day jobs. “Sometimes we’d be out there in the dark, harvesting and listening to the owls,” Cecelia remembers fondly.

Newly retired and frustrated by the McMansion-friendly land-use policies cropping up in King County at the time, Steve and Cecelia were ready to relocate and fully scale their operation. Cecelia was called to move somewhere reminiscent of her South Dakota childhood, a place where she could “see the open sky.”

The sky is open as ever at Let Us Farm, the couple’s beautiful row-crop farm along the Chehalis River outside of Oakville, Washington. Named both for the leafy vegetable and the couple’s stance against urban sprawl, their farm is both a passion and a political statement.

They purchased the farm on a memorable day in 2001 – the Nisqually Earthquake nearly kept them from getting to their signing on time. From that day forward, they put their whole selves into restoring the place. Year after year, they added infrastructure and cleaned up the fields until the farm was ready for planting. The couple has planted over 1,800 native trees and shrubs to serve as buffers and provide habitat to wildlife. They worked with the local Conservation District to plant pollinator strips that have attracted nearly 50 species of birds to the property over the years.

In order to grow their signature product – you guessed it – lettuce, Steve and Cecelia nourished their fields with crop rotation. Their unique and delicious lettuce varieties sold out week after week at Seattle area farmer’s markets for nearly 20 years.

Today, Steve and Cecelia are slowing down their operation to focus on family and reflect on the legacy they hope to leave behind. Part of that legacy includes a generous donation of their farm’s conservation easement to PCC Farmland Trust, which we are deeply honored to uphold. An easement removes development potential from farmland, protecting its agricultural values forever.

“The complexity of nature has to be recognized,” said Steve sincerely, looking out over his precious land. “It’s bigger than us. It’s just the right thing to do.”