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Healthy farm, good neighbor: Conservation plan helps historic Fall City acreage

Fall City farmer Cory Huskinson used King Conservation District grants to transform his historic acreage into a greener, busier, better place. He welcomes visitors at a Feb. 20 open house. - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Fall City farmer Cory Huskinson used King Conservation District grants to transform his historic acreage into a greener, busier, better place. He welcomes visitors at a Feb. 20 open house.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

For Fall City resident Cory Huskinson, the reason for adopting a King Conservation District Farm Plan is splashing in the creek outside.

When he moved to the neighborhood, salmon were battling choking weeds and barbed wire in Huskinson's neck of Patterson Creek.

"They were fighting," he said. "It was hard for them to spawn with all that blockage in the creek."

Now, "I get a dozen, two dozen, every day," he said, watching a startled salmon swim up the riffle.

With help from the district, Huskinson set a farm plan and used grants to restore his historic farm on sound conservation-minded principles, helping the salmon along with his own livestock.

Originally, all Huskinson wanted was to use as much of his land as possible.

His family had bought the 100-year-old Baxter family barn along with two and a half acres of land in 2007. Farm development regulations meant he could only keep two horses on the property, but the farm plan allowed him to improve the property to the point where he now keeps three horses, a small herd of miniature donkeys, chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail and a baby calf.

Improved drainage on the site keeps his horses cleaner and healthier.

"Their feet are stronger," he said. "There's less flies and smell. The water is crisper and cleaner. It's helping the environment, from beginning to end."

What is the King Conservation District?

The King Conservation District, or KCD, is a natural resources assistance agency that works to promote the sustainable use of natural resources through responsible stewardship. Since 1949, the district has helped educate landowners, schools, scientists, consultants and agencies in how to recognize, solve or avoid creating environmental problems.

The district is funded by a $10 per-parcel assessment fee.

All landowners within the district are entitled to free information and technical assistance for water quality protection, wildlife habitat enhancement, farm management plans, and information on soil and slope stability, native plant products, manure and other topics.

As a new board member of the volunteer Partnership for Rural King County, and a participant in the federal Stewardship in Action program, Huskinson is helping spread awareness about conservation farm plans and their benefits. He has been able to convince several neighbors living on the former pioneer Baxter and Ambold farms to adopt historic farm practices.

Now, Huskinson is working to catalyze his neighbors into working with the conservation district to try farm plans, hoping to preserve and restore all of the Patterson watershed.

"King Conservation District is the best friend in the world," Huskinson said. "They're always looking for the positive, for the best for the environment."

To help lead the way, Huskinson hosts frequent open houses and school tours at his farm.

To learn about the Baxter Farm or schedule a tour, e-mail Huskinson at baxterbarn@hotmail.com or visit his new Web site, baxterbarn.org.

Discover the Baxter Farm

Visitors are welcome to learn about Fall City History and see clean farm management practices in action at an open house, 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Baxter Farm, 31929 S.E. 44th St., Fall City.

Participants can learn what neighbors are doing to save money on property taxes and ensure that their community remains farm-friendly for generations to come. The open house explores options for implementing clean farm management tools and practice by leveraging the technical and financial help offered through the Federal EPA Stewardship in Action Project.

To register and receive directions, call (425) 282-1949 or e-mail to signup@kingcd.org.

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