11 Big Wins of 2020
What an unforgettable year it has been. With 2020 nearly in our rearview mirror, we are spending time reflecting on all that we were able to accomplish during such trying times for our world and our local communities. Even as millions lost their lives and jobs, people like you still came forward to show your support for Washington Farmland Trust in 2020 and we couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you, and please join us in celebrating these 11 accomplishments from the year:
Became Washington Farmland Trust
We began 2020 by honoring and celebrating our 20-year history in close collaboration with our long-standing partners, supporters, and friends at PCC Community Markets. In September, we were thrilled to announce our new name: Washington Farmland Trust – a celebration of this incredible place we call home and our unwavering commitment to sustaining a future for farming statewide.
Completing Our Farms, Our Future
Launched in 2016, this 5-year, $26-million capital campaign has allowed us to scale and accelerate farmland protection efforts to meet the incredible need on the ground. Through the campaign, we have conserved 1,378 acres of prime farmland and cued up an additional 800 acres for future protection. We have also launched two signature programs: Farm to Farmer and Advancing Farm Sustainability. And, we have invested in lasting organizational transformation and emerging programmatic commitments to racial equity. With less than $300,000 left to raise to complete the campaign, we are so close to our goal. Will you join us?
Launched a New 20-Year Vision
In September, alongside our name change, we unveiled our new strategic plan, a 20-year vision for sustaining a future for farming across Washington State. Our approach focuses on protecting what is left of our most precious agricultural lands, creating affordable land access for next-generation farmers, and addressing climate change and social inequities in everything we do.
Conserved Olson Farm
Our conservation team worked with Paul and Dalene Olson to permanently protect Olson Farm – their 121-acre farm located near Chehalis, Washington. The Olsons have owned and operated the family farm for over forty years and transitioned the farm to organic in 2000. Due to significant commercial and industrial development along the I-5 corridor, their property was highly threatened. We are thrilled to be able help protect Olson Farm for future generations and advance our conservation strategy in Southwest Washington.
Created Land Access for New & Expanding Farmers
Through Farm to Farmer, we provided assistance to more than 40 farmers and farmer collectives looking for land in King, Pierce, and Skagit counties and hit a milestone of 1,400 acres listed through the program. Our technical assistance resulted in six farmers and farmer collectives gaining ground for their businesses in 2020. Learn more about their stories here.
We also sold the Trust-conserved 20 Acres Farm located in the Snoqualmie Valley to farmers Jen Dwyer and Phillip Brown of Hollyhock Farm in August. Since conserving the property in 2006, the Trust has leased it to four local farm businesses. We are excited to sell the property to Jen and Phillip, who expanded their operation to be more self-sufficient thanks to the fertile valley ground.
Sourced Donated Masks for Farmers & Frontline Employees
In March, as Coronavirus began impacting Washingtonians, we partnered with Crafters Against COVID-19 Seattle and Splash Fabric to ensure that farmers, farm employees, and frontline food workers across Washington State had access to 4,000+ donated masks. We distributed masks to agricultural communities from Everett to Orting, and from Snoqualmie Valley to Yakima.
Conserved Mountain View Dairy
In 2016, Washington Farmland Trust purchased the 284-acre Mountain View Dairy in Graham, Washington. This was our first large-scale Buy-Protect-Sell project. This January, in partnership with Pierce County and Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, we completed the agricultural conservation easement to protect the property in perpetuity. The farm is currently leased by Providence Farms; with the easement now in place, the Trust has created a pathway toward affordable farmland ownership for the family to purchase the land and expand their dairy operation.
Produced Two Stellar Virtual Events
To mark the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, authors Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé spoke alongside a panel of local producers about farming and climate change. The event drew over 1,100 people from 32 states. In September, we hosted our first virtual benefit concert, Love the Land, in partnership with Viva Farms. The event featured musicians Dave Matthews, Tomo Nakayama, Luz Elena Mendoza, and Naomi Wachira. We raised over $230,000 and drew nearly 900 attendees from 22 states.
Supported Salmon Recovery Efforts on Reiner Farm
In 2018, Washington Farmland Trust purchased the 260-acre Reiner Farm located on a 2-mile stretch of the Skykomish River in Monroe. Our aims with this project are to conserve prime farmland, protect salmon habitat, and provide flood resilience. In partnership with the Tulalip Tribes and Snohomish County, we are helping facilitate the sale of approximately 100 acres of conserved riparian habitat to the Tulalip Tribes, in support of their longstanding salmon recovery efforts on the river. Funding for this transfer was provided in part by the Land Trust Alliance’s Pacific Northwest Resilient Landscape Initiative.
Protected a Critical Water Source
Washington Farmland Trust is facilitating the transfer of water rights from Card Creek, a tributary of the Carbon River, to a newly-installed groundwater well on Harman Farm. The project will increase the farm’s climate resilience, while reducing streamflow impacts to Card Creek, home to nearly 5 acres of previously restored salmon rearing habitat on Trust-conserved farms.
Welcomed 5 New Board Members
This year, Washington Farmland Trust’s board of directors grew, too! We are pleased and proud to welcome five new board members in 2020: Joanie Parsons, Gary Kotzen, Rachel Hynes, Jared Mitchell, and Pamela Hinckley. All of our newest board members are community leaders with deep connections to food, farming, and our shared vision of sustaining a future for farming in Washington. We are glad to have their sound counsel as we aim to advance our mission.