Crop rows at Early Bird Farm in the Clear Creek area of the Puyallup Valley.
At PCC Farmland Trust, we know that farmland conservation has long-term, far-reaching impacts. In addition to keeping healthy, local food on our plates, protecting farms has the potential to improve soil quality, keep our air and water clean, revitalize local food economies, and sustain the agricultural character of our state.
That’s why, after protecting farmland and building relationships in the Puyallup Valley for nearly a decade, we signed on to lead the Farming in the Floodplain Project (FFP) – a pilot project in the Clear Creek area aiming to meet multiple community and environmental needs in response to flooding. As development and land use pressures continue to increase in the Puyallup Valley, flooding has become a challenge for many. In Washington, some of the highest quality farmland sits in the valley-bottom floodplain. And yet, historically, human safety and fish habitat have taken precedent over agriculture in conversations around flood impacts. The FFP aims to illuminate the unique challenges farmers face in the flood-prone area of Clear Creek, and incorporate them into projects that support a safe, vibrant community for all.
As we continue to deepen our engagement in the Puyallup Valley, leading the FFP was a natural expansion of our work. We saw it as a unique opportunity to support the continued viability of critical farmland in our focus area, and better understand what farmers need to keep farming in a world of competing floodplain interests.
Funded by the statewide Floodplains by Design program, the FFP is led by PCC Farmland Trust and includes a committee of Floodplains for the Future members – a partnership of public, non-profit, and private stakeholders concerned about the health of the Puyallup Watershed.
Over the last year, we have been working to engage and collaborate with farmers in the Clear Creek area, while our partners at Environmental Science Associates have been conducting a technical analysis of current and future conditions that may affect local agriculture. We have also been regularly convening a group of technical and agricultural experts to report out on our progress, and analyze information we have uncovered about agriculture, climate change, and hydrology in the area. Through this work, we are elevating the voices of farmers in order to clarify and support their needs and interests.
Over the coming year, we hope to provide Clear Creek farmers with the technical information they need to improve the long-term viability of their farm businesses, and influence policy-makers to support them in those efforts.
Learn more at farminginthefloodplain.org.