Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jubilee! Farm, Family, Fun

We had a great time at an Autumn Harvest Celebration on Jubilee Farm. Tom Douglas Company hosted a fun employee party, and since it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, several hundred additional people were enjoying hayrides, pumpkin harvesting,and farm fun in general.

Alert!! Do you value your local farms?

Many local farmers would not be here without the King County Agriculture Program. The Ag program’s funding is threatened in this year’s county budget cuts. If this program disappears, your Farmers Market farmers lose their advocates within county government.

There are tremendous growth pressures within our metropolitan-oriented King County. Development does not support farmers. We need to make sure that local farmers will continue to be supported at the government level - otherwise, the precious farmland we do have left will be lost to development.

The King County Ag Program:

1.) fights to protect and preserve farmland against development pressures. Flooding is a big problem.

2.) helps farmers face challenges with land use regulations and reduces red tape and permit costs.

3.) provides marketing and economic development support to our local farmers.

Call or email your county council members! The Council is accepting electronic testimony of up to 300 words. Please tell them how much you value your local farmers market and local farmers.

Most importantly, tell council members to keep the Ag Program funded in the next budget cycle.

We in King County are on the leading edge of the movement to grow our food locally. The county council needs to hear from you ASAP! They discuss and vote on next year’s budget through mid November.

Ron Sims, County Executive. 206.296.4040

Farmers are a county-wide asset. We must keep our farmlands protected if we believe in the value of a local food source.

The Ag program is already in place and already advocates for the farmers. Let’s keep this valuable part of our county bureaucracy. The King County Ag Program brings farmers to the city, and protects the farmers. Please call soon and make your voice heard.

More about the King County Agriculture Program:

Many people are aware of the very visible marketing and market development work that the King County Agriculture Program undertakes. However, this is only one piece of the program. The Ag Program provides an extensive set of essential services for individual farmers and small groups of farmers to keep them on the land. These services represent the hidden costs of keeping agriculture in a metropolitan area and are difficult for city people to see because they happen in the rural areas. The Ag Program staff work on the challenges that farmers face trying to farm in a rapidly developing region so that the farmers, themselves, can continue to spend their time and money on production.

Farmer Support Services:

  • Address drainage (getting water off the fields), wetland expansion, mitigation projects, water supply (getting water on the land), road widening, development on neighboring lands
  • Promote and develop ag friendly land use policies, regulations, permits, tax incentives and code enforcement
  • Negotiate conflicts with ag on issues such as endangered species, beavers, wetland mitigation, water quality, flood safety standards, with local state and federal agencies.

Land and Resource Protection:

  • Farmland Preservation Program: Over the past 29 years, the FPP has purchased development rights on 13,200 acres of prime agriculture lands in King County. On an ongoing basis, the program procures funding to buy more development rights, and works to ensure that covenants are kept over time even as farming changes on the land.
  • FPP ensures we have land that is permanently available to farm.
  • Current Use Taxation: Helps farmers by reducing the taxes on the land being farmed for commercial purposes.

Successful agriculture in King County requires coordination with other regions and agencies. Staff work with neighboring counties, state and federal agencies to ensure farmers can continue to farm in the county.

Thank you for your support of local agriculture!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Flowing with the currents...

I'm happy to announce the postponement of our Autumn Party. It was becoming very stressful to pull together a big, fun-filled party in such a short time. Also, as I was talking to people, I was hearing that many of the families I would most like to come already had plans for the evening. Since we are all about change for the good, Election night seems a fortuitous time for a party. We hope Barak Obama will truly be able to lead our Nation in a positive direction. In the meantime, each of us has tremendous power to enact change in our own communities. Where you buy your food, who you buy your food from, who you spend your time with, which businesses you patronize, these are simple everyday choices we all make, and they can all make a difference!
So come out on Election Night, bring the kids, celebrate the remaining vestiges of democracy, get to know new friends and small business people in our community.

Monday, October 13, 2008

When the going gets tough, the tough get...Together!

Community is the focus for now. When it's difficult to escape the drumbeats of gloom and doom, we need to pull together and support one another. Think of the covered wagons crossing the vast unfamiliar night forming in a tight circle for protection. Think of immigrant in tight communities, supporting one another.
It seems that a lot of current problems have been created by sending our business overseas rather then strengthening our own neighborhoods. Am I blaming free trade and the global economy for US economic problems? Sort of. I think purchasing coffee directly from our farmer/friend Arturo of Sol Colibri Coffee in Costa Rica is great, I think buying cheap plastic toys from China is not good for anyone.
Before this gets too political, I will say let's try to work with and support the folks in our Northwest communities. I am hoping lots of people come to Cultureyard on the 25th and take advantage of a networking opportunity as well as a chance to eat good food and spend quality time with family and friends.