The North Olympic Development Council is committed to a high quality of life on the Olympic Peninsula for generations to come. One of the ways the Development Council seeks to meet this commitment is through its investment in supporting the economic viability of our region’s farms, with a particular focus on creating land access for the next generation of farmers. Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator Mark Bowman leads this effort. His growing success is a key reason why he’s been named the 2022 Friends of the Fields Farmer of the Year.
Mark spends his days working directly with farms across Clallam and Jefferson Counties helping them further hone their businesses for success. He aids farms in everything from crop selection, to financing, to succession planning. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s 2017 Census, the average age of the primary farmer/producer on Clallam County farms is 61, among the oldest in the State.
This reality, coupled with the Peninsula’s fabulous farm soils, long agricultural heritage, the increasing costs of unprotected farmland and the need for affordable farmland access by the next generation of farmers has led the Development Council into a fantastic partnership with the Washington Farmland Trust and their Farm to Farmer program. Farming can be a successful business on the North Olympic Peninsula, however as a farmer approaches retirement they need to recoup their investments in the land and in recent decades this has created a major threat of converting farmland into residential or commercial development. The North Olympic Development Council and Farm to Farmer seek to turn these times of threats into times of opportunity.
Farm to Farmer provides Mark with the resources and tools he needs to help farmers who are ready to retire do so with their equity alongside the confidence that their lands will remain in production. It also helps current and aspiring farmers find affordable lands to own or to lease while offering personalized technical assistance.
Here on the Olympic Peninsula, Mark also has at his disposal the work of North Olympic and Jefferson Land Trusts who, through their purchase of conservation easements on farms, can provide needed capital to the transition while ensuring permanent farmland protection.
In the decades to come, residents of the Peninsula will look at the purposeful work of Mark Bowman, the North Olympic Development Council and the Farm to Farmer program with great appreciation for their timely and effective impact on the future of local food, beautiful open space, and thriving farm economy.
Celebrate the fabulous work of the North Olympic Development Council, Farm to Farmer, and Mark Bowman. We will premiere the 2022 Farmer of the Year presentation on the Land Trust’s YouTube channel on September 21 at 6pm.
Also check out North Olympic Land Trust’s current efforts to conserve two local farms.