Business

King County, PCC Farmland Trust partner to protect Snoqualmie Valley farmland

Executive champions smart growth by preserving farmlands that supply fresh food while encouraging growth in areas with existing residential infrastructure

Jubilee Farm owners Erick and Wendy Haakenson can continue growing fresh, local produce for the community and never have to worry about losing their farm to land-use development pressure, thanks to an innovative partnership between King County and PCC Farmland Trust (PCC FT).

“Farms can face intense development pressure, but when protected by transferring development rights they can remain economically viable and ensure a fresh, local food supply for generations to come,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

“The conservation of Jubilee Farm is a remarkable step forward in securing a future for environmentally sensitive land stewardship in Snoqualmie Valley,” said Rebecca Sadinsky, Executive Director of PCC Farmland Trust. “Sustaining agriculture in King County begins with keeping our farms in the hands of farmers.”

The County and PCC FT have partnered to acquire development rights and preserve the Carnation-area Jubilee Farm, one of the region’s largest and longest-running Community Supported Agriculture operations.

King County’s innovative Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Program and PCC FT contributed equal amounts of funding to complete the $340,000 deal and preserve Jubilee Farm forever.

The Haakensons have been farming in the Snoqualmie Valley for almost two decades, and now their son, David, is working with his father to learn the operation.

“I’ve been farming this property in the Snoqualmie Valley for many years, and after working with King County and the PCC Farmland Trust, I know that this land will be used to grow food – not subdivisions – for many generations to come,” said Erick Haakenson. “This has been a great partnership between county government, the non-profit sector and me as a private landowner, to protect land here in the Snoqualmie Valley for local food production.”

The King County TDR Program is a voluntary land use incentive which provides financial incentives for willing landowners to sell development rights in exchange for a permanent conservation easement. Developers then buy the development credits to use inside cities to add additional square footage to their projects.

By using the County’s TDR Program, the farm’s development rights will be transferred into urban areas such as Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.

In July, Executive Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced an agreement that would allow developers in South Lake Union to take advantage of the TDR Program.

Executive Constantine said he is committed to permanently protecting many more acres of fertile agricultural land throughout the rural areas via TDR to sustain the supply of fresh, local food.

King County currently has 59 active farms in its rural areas supplying weekly city farmers markets.

PCC Farmland Trust is the only land trust in the nation exclusively dedicated to saving organic farmland. The Trust’s mission is to secure, preserve and steward threatened farmland in the Northwest, ensuring that generations of local farmers productively farm using sustainable growing methods.

PCC FT also works to place farmers on rescued property, actively producing food for the community. Jubilee Farm is in the heart of the Trust’s key priority preservation areas. To learn more about PCC Farmland Trust, visit pccfarmlandtrust.org.

An estimated 850 acres of rural farmlands – comprising 49 of the 59 active farms in King County that supply farmers markets – are unprotected and remain vulnerable to the threat of conversion to residential and suburban development. Once developed, the land can no longer produce food as a financially sustainable farm.

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