Land preservation allows farmers deeper roots
ROCHESTER, Wash. — Thanks to the efforts of more than a dozen organizations and individuals, 147 acres of prime farmland in south Thurston County has been preserved.
Scatter Creek Community Farm will encompass a working farm, a farm incubator and habitat for salmon and other wildlife.
South of the Sound Community Farm Land Trust purchased about two-thirds of the land and will lease it to Kirsop Farm, which has been leasing land near Tumwater.
“It’s gorgeous black sandy soil there, but it’s in the Urban Growth Area,” said Colin Barricklow, who co-owns Kirsop Farm with Genine Bradwin. “A four-year lease was the longest we could get. This arrangement gives us a safety net and permanent landing place. ... There’s no development pressure here.”
Kirsop’s lease is for 99 years, and Barricklow said, “I was pleased to learn we could renew that and get another 99-year lease.”
Farming since 1995, the Kirsop partners grow and sell organic produce through a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, farmers’ markets and direct sales to retailers, restaurants and schools.
The land at Scatter Creek is in transition to organic certification.
“We want to develop this farm for the benefit of the South Thurston County farm community and the local food economy,” John MacLean, board member of the Farm Land Trust. “Part of that effort is the farm incubator, which aims to grow the next generation of farmers by providing affordable access to small farm plots and supporting infrastructure and training.”
The 30-acre farm incubator, he said, is based on a successful program at Viva Farms, in Skagit County. A local nonprofit, Enterprise for Equity, will get it going next spring.
Neighboring Rising River Farm will lease land from Scatter Creek for storing its equipment on higher ground above the flood-prone Chehalis River.
The Heernett Environmental Foundation holds the remaining 48 acres in conservation for native wildlife and for the protection of salmon habitat and ground water. The farm is intended to serve as a demonstration project for how sustainable farming practices can thrive alongside important wildlife and salmon habitat restoration efforts.
The South of the Sound Community Farm Land Trust also has another project underway. It received funds from Thurston County Conservation Futures Program for an urban agriculture project to benefit “GRuB” (Garden Raised Bounty). GRuB is a local nonprofit that brings youths and people with low incomes together to grow food for the community.
Past projects include Black River Ranch, in which the Farm Land Trust worked with Capitol Land Trust, PCC Farmland Trust, Thurston County, the South Sound office of the Nature Conservancy and the Washington Rivers Conservancy to preserve a large local dairy. Black River includes conservation easements for agriculture and wildlife conservation.
Scatter Creek benefactors
Sources of funding and technical assistance include:
• Thurston County Conservation Futures Program
• Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board
• Kirsop Farm
• Community Foundation of South Puget Sound
• Squaxin Island Tribe
• Puyallup Tribe
• Nisqually Indian Tribe
• Tides Foundation
• South of the Sound Community Farm Land Trust
• Equity Trust
• Trout Unlimited
• Capitol Land Trust
• Pacific Groundwater Group