Project gives state farmers a voice on future of their land

Eric Tegethoff
Washington News Service

One of the farmers involved in the Photovoice project, Anna Caruso of Caruso Farms, says she takes care of the land to produce food for people, but also for her children. (Provided photo/Anna Caruso)

SNOHOMISH — A new project captures the issues facing agriculture in Snohomish County through the farmer’s lens — literally.

Seven farmers took part in the Photovoice project hosted by the Snohomish Conservation District and the Nature Conservancy, snapping photos that expressed the importance of agriculture and their local concerns for the future of farming.

Heather Cole, community relations manager for the Nature Conservancy, says farmers highlighted urban growth, climate change and resiliency.

“These are big, complex, difficult issues,” she says. “But what made this project unique was that we saw these issues through the eyes of the farmers.”

Libby Reed of Orange Star Farms says abnormal weather this year affected her crops and she wonders what the continued effects of climate change will have on her farm. (Provided photo/Libby Reed)

Farmers, salmon and cities all play a role in the river valleys of the Puget Sound region, including Snohomish County. This project highlights farmers’ approach to issues facing the valley.

The Snohomish Conservation District is putting together a long-term plan for agriculture in the region, focusing on resiliency.

One of the farmers, Anna Caruso of Caruso Farms in Snohomish, says she approached the project from the perspective of small farms. She says it’s important for decision makers to listen to farmers like her.

“When you’re making a plan for something that is supposed to be long-term, I think it’s important to start with the people who are actually doing it, right?” she asks. “So, working the soil or in any capacity.”

Bill Pierce of Soaring Swallows Farms worries about urban encroachment onto farmland. (Provided photo/Bill Pierce)

Libby Reed, owner and operator of Orange Star Farms in Monroe, says policymakers should take on the issue of climate change so that farmers can manage their land in environmentally sound ways.

“Maybe some changes in regulation or easing some permitting standards or fees will allow us as farmers to plan for the future success of our businesses but also make it easier for us to steward our land,” Reed notes.

Bill Pierce, owner of Soaring Swallow Farms in Arlington, focused on the concerns of urban sprawl into farming land. He says farmers don’t usually enter the political realm.

“We’re not normally a very vocal group because we’re really pretty busy people and trying to make things every day, but I think that the reality of what’s going on out here is something that the officials need to know about,” he explains.

For more information on the Photovoice project, visit the Snohomish Conservation District website at tinyurl.com/ycr9h8w6.

 

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