PCC Farmland Trust Programs
PCC Farmland Trust has three core programs: land conservation, working land stewardship and community engagement.
The Conservation Program fulfills the Trust’s primary mission of preserving farmland forever by using agricultural conservation easements as well as outright purchase to remove development potential on prime farmlands. This includes identifying, evaluating, and prioritizing conservation projects, working with current landowners, finding new farmland owner/operators, and developing and refining the Trust’s farmland conservation tools.
Stewardship is the long-term land caretaking function of the Trust and enforces environmental and organic farming goals spelled out in either a conservation easement or lease, assistance to farm operators to meet those goals, and community volunteer work parties to install and restore habitat buffers to separate valued natural resources from farming activities. For the Farmland Trust there is an additional stewardship measure, best practice, and goal to ensure that all conserved acres are actively farmed by food producers employing environmentally sustainable practices.
Our Community Engagement program aims to expand public understanding of the value of and threats to local, family farming. Activities include farm tours, seasonal chef/farmer collaborative dinners, and on-farm workshops to learn about the ecosystems supported by environmentally sustainable farm businesses. Our robust public communications practices employ social media, e-news, the Trust’s webpage, and our access to PCC shoppers via in-store communication to spotlight the broad community benefits afforded by local, sustainable farming.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
In March of 2015, PCC Farmland Trust conserved 42 acres of Helsing Junction Farm, an organic CSA farm and community gathering place in Rochester, WA. Our conservation partners in Thurston County have already protected hundreds of acres of working farm and ranch lands. One of the first CSA’s in the country, Helsing Junction estimates that their farm feeds 5,000 people through their membership of 1,000, and countless more through the 20,000 pounds of food they donate to shelters and food banks annually. PCC Farmland Trust has now protected over 1300 acres of farmland for sustainable and organic farming, forever.
Last year PCC Farmland Trust launched the Acquisition Accelerator Pilot in the Puyallup Valley to more rapidly conserve prime farmland in concentration. Over the next twelve months, the Trust has the opportunity to use the conservation tools developed as part of the Acquisition Accelerator pilot project to conserve farmland more rapidly than in the past. This comes with many challenges. Acquiring land faster will require raising more financial support and leveraging a wider variety of funding sources. It will increase the working pace of the conservation team and the monitoring and restoration load of the stewardship program. As public grant dollars dwindle, we depend on the support of individual donors and foundations now, more than ever before, to protect our precious remaining farmland and keep it affordable and accessible for the next generation of farmers.