Org News

Staff Spotlight: Nicole Warren, Farmland Project Manager

Nicole brings more than a decade of experience in agriculture and conservation to her role as Farmland Project Manager. Prior to joining the Trust, Nicole spent several years working for local conservation districts as a Farm Planner and most recently as a Wildlife Biologist for a national non-profit, engaging the community on conservation issues as well as providing education and technical knowledge to assist farmers in implementing conservation practices on their farm operations. Nicole grew up working on a variety of pastured dairy and livestock farms in New England and the Pacific Northwest. Having grown up in rural Connecticut, she developed a passion for conservation issues and has continued to find her place in supporting the local agricultural community ever since. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys gardening, cooking big meals, and adventuring outdoors — hunting, fishing, camping, or backpacking with her dog Sorrel. Here’s Nicole…

Tell us about yourself.

I grew up in rural Connecticut surrounded by dairy farms and woodlands, and have always seen farms as an integral part of the community. I’m always trying to get back to that place where I feel most connected to myself, those rural landscapes, and feel grateful to work for an organization that is helping protect these important places. I grew up in a big French and Italian family, and cooking was a huge way that we showed love and connected with each other. My grandmother moved to America when she was 14 having never spoken English before. I grew up with my great grandmother and grandmother making pasta and hanging it on surfaces all over the house to dry – chairs, banisters, you name it. The love of good food and connecting over food really shaped who I am today. I’ve been in the PNW for 15 years and the prairies, mountains, and strong sense of community have my heart. This will definitely always be home.

Tell us why you care about local food and farming issues.

My initial interest in farming stemmed from wanting to understand where my food came from and my strong interest in nutrition. I worked on a variety of farms throughout my 20s, ranging from educational farms to pasture based livestock operations to farmstead creameries. I also worked for a small business in Olympia that made sauerkraut with produce from local farms. During my time there, I worked in the office, in the production kitchen, and managed sales and farmers markets. My experiences up to this point have always been wearing multiple hats, and I thrive in that environment. In recent years, I’ve worked as a farm planner for conservation districts to help provide education and direct assistance to farmers in Thurston and Pierce Counties, through one-on-one mentoring to teaching workshops to large groups of community members interested in implementing conservation practices on their farm operations and homesteads. Throughout my life and career, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for the direct and local impact farmers make in our community. I think every role in increasing access to local food is critical, whether that’s providing assistance to farmers, increasing access to farmland, or helping organizations that are actively working on breaking down barriers to food access, land access, and farming in any way that we can.

What are you most excited about working on at the organization?

I’m really excited to develop relationships with farmers and community partners, and to support folks in being successful on their farms. I’m also excited by the opportunity to provide accessible and affordable lease options on the farms we own, and to find creative ways to manage and steward land.

What is your hope for the future of farming in Washington?

I feel hopeful that there are so many people who want to work together to figure out how to help farmers succeed. It’s daunting to think about what the future of farming holds, but I see so much promise in doing work at the local level – it adds up overtime to have a big impact.