By partnering with local farmers, PCC Farmland Trust is not only expanding opportunities for aspiring, expanding, and retiring farmers throughout Puget Sound, but the Trust is also playing a crucial role in conserving and protecting Washington’s precious farmlands.
Barriers to accessible, affordable farmland
Farmland access, especially in a booming region like Puget Sound, is one of the top challenges for young and beginning farmers today. Barriers like student debt, lack of access to capital, and limited income means that finding affordable, productive land is harder than ever. At the same time, many retiring landowners are unable to find aspiring farmers or family members willing to take over their farm as they near retirement. In response to this growing issue, PCC Farmland Trust unveiled a new land-matching tool, Farm to Farmer, in order to protect Washington farmland.
Farm to Farmer: An online platform
Farm to Farmer is an online tool that provides personalized coaching as well as a land-matching service that is run by and for farmers. On their easy-to-use platform, landowners can share information about land that they are ready to sell or lease. At the same time, farmers that are seeking land can post about their farming interests. An experienced farmer who manages the program at PCC Farmland Trust then connects the two parties directly, facilitating the match based on shared agricultural needs and interests.
PCC Farmland Trust sees Farm to Farmer as “a natural complement to our accelerated conservation work. As we aim to keep land protected and in production across the Puget Sound region, it is only right that we work closely with the sustainable and organic farmers who steward it best.”
Innovation strategies to keep farmland in farming
Washington’s farmlands produce healthy food, support rural heritage, and provide a huge economic and environmental value to the Puget Sound region. Without the work of land trusts and programs like Farm to Farmer, landowners are pressured to sell to the highest bidder. In this time of population growth and urban expansion, that bidder is likely to be a developer with far more capital than your average farmer. With Farm to Farmer in place, productive lands will more easily be passed down to the next generation of farmers passionate about growing food and fiber, and keeping agricultural lands in production.
While the program is only in its infancy, the program is already successfully running in both Pierce and King Counties. Combined with the 2,548 acres of farm properties across the state that PCC Farmland Trust has protected, the launch of Farm to Farmer marks an exciting and innovative step in the fight for food security and environmental conservation in Washington.
Learn more about the Farm to Farmer program here!
About the Author: Kaia Boonzaier is a current analyst in management consulting, and a recent graduate of the University of Washington Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. A student of climate change and energy policy, she is passionate about researching and resolving international resource conflicts. Kaia is from Vashon Island, and lives in Seattle.