Seattle, Wash., April 26, 2013— A group of national and regional experts gathered in Seattle today to discuss how to save family farms and local food around Puget Sound.
The Planning for Agriculture in the Puget Sound Region conference featured presentations on what local governments and citizen groups can do to support local farms and food, including land use planning, supporting local food markets, and transferring development rights from farm areas into cities. The conference showcased three areas – Vermont, the Delaware Valley, and Marin County, California – that have thriving family farms and local food in their communities.
“We’re at a crossroads on local farms and food,” said Dennis Canty, Pacific Northwest director of American Farmland Trust (AFT). “We can save our local food supply, but only if we work together to protect our farmland and support our local farmers.” The conference is part of AFT’s Farmland Forever campaign that aims to protect another 100,000 acres of farmland through land use planning and purchases of development rights by 2018.
“I see a tremendous opportunity for the Puget Sound region to sustain and expand its local food supply in a way that supports farmers, restaurants, and food-related businesses,” Ellen Kahler, executive director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, told participants over a lunch featuring locally grown food. “In Vermont, we’ve seen that agriculture development is economic development and the market is expanding, creating more jobs and economic opportunity. There’s every reason to think that the Puget Sound region can do the same.”
“This conference is timely, because Seattle is increasingly becoming engaged in regional farm and food-related activities beyond the city limits,” said Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin. “There is a growing realization that a coordinated regional strategy is needed to protect the farms that produce our fresh, local foods and the economic activity they support.”
AFT’s Planning for Agriculture in the Puget Sound Region conference was co-sponsored by the American Planning Association Washington Chapter, Forterra, Cascade Harvest Coalition, and the University of Washington Botanic Gardens. For more information about AFT’s activities in Puget Sound, please visit www.farmland.org/washington.
American Farmland Trust is the nation's leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. Since its founding in 1980 by a group of farmers and citizens concerned about the rapid loss of farmland to development, AFT has helped save millions of acres of farmland from development and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more.
AFT's national office is located in Washington, DC. Phone: 202-331-7300. For more information, visit www.farmland.org.