WSDA staff and partners visit the Clear Creek area

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Chad Kruger (Director of WSU Puyallup campus), Derek Sandison (Director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture) and Rawley Johnson (Farmer at Early Bird Farm) in front of Rawley’s robust buckwheat cover crop.

On July 8th, several dozen partners came to the WSU Puyallup Campus to discuss the Floodplains by Design funded work to support agricultural viability in the area. The goals were to discuss how FbD funding has used multiple tools and collective action to understand and support agricultural viability in the Clear Creek area and discuss efforts within the broader Puyallup Watershed. We also shared how WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center, WSDA, and the work of the Farm Committee of the Floodplains for the Future partnership are supporting agricultural viability in the Watershed. Finally, we discussed many ideas about opportunities to better meet the needs of the agricultural community in the region.

The main focus of the day was visiting several farms in the Clear Creek area: Wild Hare Farm, Zestful Gardens, and Early Bird Farm. At Wild Hare, we heard from farmers Mark and Katie Green about how an agricultural conservation easement  allowed their family to purchase and continue farming on a locally-beloved farm. At Early Bird, Rawley Johnson shared how he has participated in the Floodplains for the Future partnership, and how that group is advancing efforts towards agricultural viability, and shared many of the on-farm and local challenges he faces. At Zestful Gardens, Holly Johnson discussed more challenges of farming in Pierce County, but also expressed tentative hope that partnerships such as Floodplain for the Future can advance agricultural viability needs.

Since 2015, Floodplains by Design (FbD), via the Puyallup Watershed’s Floodplains for the Future partnership, has funded over $2,500,000 of projects and program-level work towards understanding, documenting and improving agricultural viability and farmland conservation. At the same time, this work is integrated into local floodplain management and habitat improvement efforts. FbD funds are leading to an understanding of what the Puyallup Watershed agricultural community needs to be viable in the future given the complexity and challenges facing the diverse farmers and producers.