Washington Farmland Trust protects and stewards threatened farmland across the state. We keep land in production by making it accessible to a new generation of farmers.
Local farms are essential to our daily lives. Investing in Washington farmland means healthy food for our children, thriving rural economies, and fertile, productive soil. Simply put: healthy farms make our communities better.
But the future of farming is threatened. Over the last four decades, some of Washington’s best soils have been irreversibly lost to development. In the next ten years, 70% of local growers will retire without a successor in place, and new farmers face countless barriers to accessing land, from affordability to a history of systemic racism. As land prices skyrocket and climate change threatens our landscape, we are working to protect farmland, support farmers, and chart a new path for the future of farming in Washington.
Our story began with Nash Huber, who has been growing food in the fertile Dungeness Valley for more than 30 years. When Nash learned that land near his farm was in danger of being developed into small housing parcels, he called local retailer PCC Community Markets. PCC leaders Joe Hardiman, Jody Aliesen, and Randy Lee spearheaded a first-of-its-kind effort, calling on members, vendors, and shoppers to raise funds to purchase Nash’s threatened land. In just a few short weeks, 97 acres were protected forever and the PCC Farmland Fund was born.
Jody Aliesen led the work of the PCC Farmland Fund as it grew, protecting 174 more acres of organic farmland in Walla Walla after Nash’s land was conserved. Our organization became registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and was soon renamed to PCC Farmland Trust, joining the ranks of other land trusts across the state and country.
As conservation ramps up and we protect our fifth farm, PCC Markets Wine & Beer Merchandiser Jeff Cox crafts a creative partnership to support the Trust’s ever-growing work. He calls on Badger Mountain & Powers Winery, the first organic winery in Washington State, to develop two special wine blends that contribute $2 from every bottle to support our work. This partnership still thrives today and has raised over $275,000 for farmland.
As the need for farmland conservation grows across the state, PCC Farmland Trust begins focusing exclusively on conservation easements, a tool designed to extinguish development potential from farmland. The Trust launches a stewardship program to maintain the long-term health and productivity of conserved farms. During this time, we begin bringing community members out to the farm through tours and events, connecting people to the land and local farmers.
Shortly after adopting our first strategic plan and laying out a vision to target specific valleys across the Puget Sound region, we receive our accreditation from the Land Trust Alliance. A two-year, highly rigorous process, accreditation demonstrates our commitments to ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.
In direct response to rising land costs and the increasing age of farmers, we launch a five-year, $26 million campaign: Our Farms, Our Future. Aiming to protect larger parcels of farmland across the Puget Sound region, the campaign leverages public grants, private donations, and an impact investment Note, which we fully subscribe in 2018 thanks to $2.17M raised from 17 accredited investors. With 15 farms protected at the launch of the campaign, we triple our annual rate of conservation.
After conducting a survey among Washington farmers to better understand their barriers to accessing land, we raise funds to help Viva Farms purchase 45 acres to expand their farm business incubator program in Skagit Valley. Shortly after, the Trust launches our own land-matching program, Farm to Farmer, enabling new and expanding farmers to connect with the land opportunities they need to grow their businesses. Farm to Farmer has since expanded from Pierce and King Counties up to Skagit County, with plans to continue scaling in the coming years.
Two decades since our founding, Washington’s land and communities have changed dramatically. As we look toward the future, we are drawing on our twenty-year history and long-standing partnerships to chart a path toward the next 20 years. As Washington Farmland Trust, our vision is to sustain a future for farming across the state, with the continued support of people like you. Thank you!
Dig in below to learn more about our protected farms, our programs, or opportunities to engage with our work.