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Feb 05

[ARCHIVED] Partnerships in Keeping Farmland Farmland

The original item was published from February 5, 2016 9:58 AM to February 5, 2016 9:59 AM

Last week, District staff joined our partners at PCC Farmland Trust and Pierce County to celebrate two Orting Valley farms being placed into permanent preservation. The Shelstad and Harman Farms, representing roughly 80 acres of vital farmland for this area, are now safe from being developed into cookie cutter homes or shopping centers.

"To me, this land is about more than one family—it represents a community’s past,Shelstad present, and future," Dave Harman recently wrote in an open letter. "I want to ensure that this land is accessible to new generations of sustainable and organic farmers who will produce healthy food, take responsibility for nearby wildlife, and conserve natural resources. It is a simple dream, but an important one, and I know that PCC Farmland Trust will make certain it is realized."

In the last 20 years, Pierce County has lost almost one quarter of our available farmland, much of it in the fertile Puyallup Valley. Since 2009 however, our Farmland Conservation Committee partnership with PCC, Pierce County, Forterra and others, has started to reverse that trend. In that time, over 550 acres of farmland have been put into permanent conservation easement, meaning that development rights have been removed for perpetuity. This not only ensures that important farmland is available for future generations, it also means that much of this land is being restored to benefit fish and wildlife due to a shared conservation ethic and vision.

The goal of this partnership is big: 6,000 more acres preserved within 10-years. But the repercussions of not preserving this farmland are big also: greater food insecurity, degraded habitat for fish and wildlife, higher rates of water pollution, and less resiliency to climate change.

A total of eight farms have been protected since 2009, and with those a lot of conservation work has been done thanks to a network of dedicated volunteers. The future for Pierce County farmland is looking brighter by the day. With new farmers such as Kim and Janette Shelstad, as well as fourth generation farm families such as Dave Harman's taking the lead to conserve farmland forever, we'll reach our long term goals.

  • Reise Farm – Date Protected: 2012 – Area: 120 acre acquisition
    • Hedgerow planted: 700’x20’ – 300 plants
    • Ball Creek Buffer Enhancement - 1035’ – 721 plants
  • Tahoma Farms – Date Protected: 2009 – Area: 40 acre acquisition
    • Hedgerow #1:  1350’x20’ – 365 plants
    • Hedgerow #2:  1200’x30’ – 495 plants
  • Little Eorthe Farm – Date Protected: 2009 – Area: 33 acre acquisition
    • Stream Buffer Planted: 1775’x50’ (avg.) – 1113 plants
  • Cart Before the Horse Farm – Date Protected: 2009 – Area: 27 acre acquisition
    • Stream Buffer Planted: 625’x50’ (avg.) – 375 plants
  • Dropstone Farm – Date Protected: 2013 – Area: 95 acre acquisition
    • Streamside Exclusion Fencing: 1,500’
  • Shelstad Farm – Date Protected: 2015 – Area: 36 acre acquisition
  • Harman Farm -  Date Protected: 2015 – Area: 44 acre acquisition
  • Matlock Farm – Date Protected: 2015 – Area: 153 acre acquisition
    • Ball Creek has a planned restoration project with a design including meandering of the creek, riparian restoration and improving the culvert at the mouth of Ball Creek as it enters the mainstem Puyallup River.