August 10, 2005
David Draper, Chairman
Lewis County Planning Commission
350 N. Market Blvd.
Chehalis, WA 98432
Re: Preservation of Agriculture Lands in Lewis County
Dear Chairman Draper and Members of the Planning Commission,
My name is Susie Kyle. I live at 185 Tingle Road, Winlock. I am an organic farmer and I am also an advocate for sustainable agriculture. I started attending the TAC meetings near the beginning of their process and attended the majority of the meetings. I provided public comment many times, and invited and brought experts to make comments as well. My dedication to the preservation of agriculture is evident by my participation, as you have seen as well during your process. I believe this gives me standing and credibility as someone from the outside who has been observing the process of the TAC committee, and as a farmer. I would like to share with you my observations over the year.
You have a tough job ahead of you sorting out the process the TAC used to come to their conclusions. I find their process convoluted and hope that you find a way to come to a conclusion in a more straightforward accurate way.
To use a criteria of peas, corn and hay to determine long term commercial significance was their “path of least resistance.” I would say it points to something deeper, which is the underlying agenda of the county which seems to me is vested in economic and housing development, clearly not vested in the long term commercial significance of agriculture land. It seems that this entire past year has been spent trying to get in to compliance with the GMA, but had absolutely nothing to do with the genuine protection of agriculture land, only trying to get in to compliance while giving up as little land to agriculture as possible. I urge the members of the Planning Commission to have your priorities in the right place as you make your decisions, not just to get into compliance with the GMA, but for the genuine intent of setting aside the most suitable agriculture land for now and future generations.
I also think many of the members of the TAC are either farmers in the old paradigm of farming that you can’t make a living farming or in positions sympathetic to development. There was not one member representing sustainable agriculture, and I think this is a significant missing piece. I think you need to start uncovering agendas and identifying self-interests as you review any opinions or recommendations. Maybe a chart could be of some help here.
This is a rather strong statement, but in all conscience I have to say it. If the Planning Commission is “in bed” with the County, and I’m not suggesting this is the case, then you might as well rubber stamp the TAC recommendations and get on with the business of paving farmland. If you are genuinely interested in determining which lands are best suited for agriculture of long term commercial significance, and I think you are, then I think you need to start over, I’m sorry to say for your sake.
To begin to sort this out, I think we need to start with the real intention of the GMA. It is my understanding they want to preserve agriculture land of long term commercial significance in perpetuity, forever. I’m assuming they want to preserve it to make sure we have land where we can produce food now and in the future, and this effort is in response to the rampant growth that is happening all over our country. Left unchecked we would be left with urban sprawl everywhere.
Preserving agriculture resource land is for the good of the whole. Most people don’t even consider this as important or a concern, let alone essential. People are more concerned about economic effects of this decision and have no concept that their food supply is at risk. If they truly knew this, it would help them understand why these very tough decisions are being made.
I feel for the people who are going to have their retirement, or inheritance or their kids’ education dramatically impacted by these decisions. In some counties they pass a tax to create a fund for purchasing development rights to compensate people for this. We could pull together as a community to look for solutions like this, government bonds, or generate some other possibility. But we have to become a solution-oriented county to do this.
The issue of irrigation rights is another perfect example of where we could become solution-oriented instead of recommending all acres without irrigation rights be eliminated. Instead of eliminating them we should be looking at solutions to the water rights conundrum, and certainly be placing the emphasis for finding water for agriculture like they are on finding water for industry, the city of Winlock and Cardinal Glass being a perfect example. Agriculture needs at least equal emphasis. Sustainable growing practices reduce water usage, while chemical farming increases water usage. Another good reason to switch to sustainable growing practices, and another example of a solution.
The TAC should have been researching all the crops that are suitable for dry land farming, along with recommending developing transition water rights to allow farmers to get crops established such as grapes that do well without water once they are established. And speaking of grapes, grapes grow well on hillsides as demonstrated in Europe, so hillsides should not across the board be eliminated as ARL. (Besides with the way the world is going we’re going to need all the wine we can make!) Seasons change, weather patterns change and we have to be willing to change as well. What grows well one decade may be something else the next. There are many row crops that grow during our long rainy season outside that never have to be irrigated, and the list goes on. Growing over-wintering crops with 120-200 days to maturity has been one of the perks of growing in the Pacific Northwest for me. I did a winter co-op CSA for 14 families this past winter and demonstrated the viability of winter farming. Since I have personal experience with this and other aspects I would be happy to be used as a resource upon request.
Farming is going through a major transition and I urge you to not base your recommendations on how it has been, or viewed by farmers who have not been able to compete with industrialized agriculture. There is a new wave of sustainable farming that is revolutionizing farming and you need to familiarize yourself with it before you make your final recommendation. Lewis County could become known as the breadbasket between Seattle and Portland, the next Marin County, known as the county who turned the tide to responsible growth with agriculture in mind.
We could be known for the revitalization of the small
family farm, the return to community based economics and a sustainable way
of life for everyone. We could be known for our local farm stores filled with
products that are grown, raised and produced locally – jams, jellies, salsa,
dressings, pickles, sauces, bread, ice cream, cheese, milk, meat, fish, fiber
products, fruits and vegetables, and the list goes on. We could be known for
our farm festivals, agri-tourism, agri-education…a destination, and even for
an Annual (even seasonal) Small Family Farm and Cottage Industry Fair. We
could be known as a county that preserved its farmland in time.
“The smart regions, says Rep. Blumenauer from Oregon, will be those that get their act together to promote local food production, a critical step in a perilous global economy to bolster physical health, conserve open lands, save dollars, and assure new self-sufficiency.”
My agenda is the preservation of agriculture land because I think it is going to be worth its weight in gold in the future. As you have heard me say many times, we are importing more food than we’re exporting (or nearing that point) AND we’re paving our farmland. This is referred to as the suicidal economy, and I sincerely believe an issue of national security.
If we don’t retain control of our ability to grow our food locally and be able to save our own seeds, our food supply is going to be completely and irrevocably controlled by companies whose only allegiance is to making shareholders richer and dominating the world’s food supply. Scary stuff, and I hope I’m wrong. No matter what our special interests or potentially mis-placed priorities are, none of us are truly interested in risking our food supply, and that’s exactly what’s at risk. But very few people know our food is at risk, so I feel like the canary in the mine. Or the mom who is worried about how she is going to feed the kids next week.
Food is essential to life, as is the ground to grow it on and should be treated as such. One of these days our soil may be worth its weight in gold, actually more valuable than gold because we can’t eat gold. Our only hope in this rather “science fiction” scenario is to retain the ability to produce our food locally, to have choice over what we eat, how it’s raised, and to be able to save our own seed. But we need the soil to grow it on, and that’s your job.
Which brings me to the topic of soil, and the criteria the TAC used. I am not in agreement with the criteria of peas, corn and hay. Criteria that is designed to emphasize one soil class at the expense of another is not an appropriate solution, unless your intention is to eliminate agriculture land. Much of the Prather soils were eliminated freeing up the I-5 corridor (for development). Maybe concentrating the growth close to the freeway and preserving agriculture land further away could be a way to go, but let’s not conveniently manipulate it to that result.
I think you need to take an important look at this. I have been an organic farmer in Winlock for 10 years and my soil type is Prather IIw. I grow a wide variety of mixed vegetables, salad greens, tree fruits and small fruits. I have never had a problem growing anything. (My real problem is that I don’t have enough time to grow because I’m always going to county and city meetings about growth. Ironic, but true.) I’ve brought with me a sample of peaches that I harvested today to demonstrate to you that Prather IIw soil is viable agriculture land. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
The farmland Cardinal is building on is even better
soil than mine, Salkum IIe, so I take real issue with that decision and am
deeply concerned about the potential of a 900 acre heavy industrial park going
in that area a mile from my farm and at the headwaters of the Olequa Creek
that runs through my farm. People in power don’t realize the true value of
prime agriculture land.
While soil type can be a measure of ARL, I think you should keep in mind that soil can also be amended and enhanced through sustainable growing practices, so in some cases we’re not even limited to the soil type. Chemical farming and heavy tilling practices diminish the quality of the soil, so the method of farming is as important as what is being grown, as many of the new wave of farmers are discovering.
For any of you who did not read the letter to the editor in the Chronicle on August 9, 2005, please take a look at it. It’s by a woman who is concerned about the high prices at the supermarket. She was watching an elderly couple look over different cuts of meat and saw them finally choose a can of Spam for their dinner. She was appalled at this because they were obviously on a fixed income, and for protein this was their only alternative to fresh meat. This is only the tip of the iceberg, and a sign of the tough times to come.
What if the price of diesel triples and the price of the food that travels 1500 miles from farm to our table triples? What if there is an interruption in the food supply for whatever reason, are we prepared as a community to grow our own food? Will there be soil to grow it on? I urge you to do an in-depth study of the state of our country’s food supply, along with researching all the economically viable uses of agriculture land. Please have answers to these questions before your final recommendation.
Viewing the videos Broken Limbs, a PBS documentary about apple farmers in Eastern Washington, the Future of Food, and Bad Seed are difficult but important information resources. We are living in a time of a severe information deficit as the most entertained and least informed people of any country on the planet. Please take the time to view them so you can make your choices from a fully informed position, along with the other supporting documents and resources.
Here’s another way a healthy community could respond to our situation. Would you please consider recommending to the BOCC that they appoint a Lewis County Sustainable Agriculture Commission and Food Policy Council to help us in our transition back to, or at least in part, to a thriving farming community? Our food security could depend upon it.
Attached is a possibility I created several years ago, A Question and an Equation. Please take a look at it and envision the true spirit of a strong local economy and food system. The impact it would have on the quality of the communities, social and economic, are sorely missing from our current economic plans.
We can bring in jobs with big box stores based on consumerism and fossil fuels, but that’s old news. Let’s do something different, innovative, collaborative and visionary. Our very future depends upon it.
Over the long run the value of the land is really the land itself. As I said earlier, the time may come when the soil is worth its weight in gold. Who is the winner then? The treasure may be in the land.
Buying land for potential income is speculation and sometimes it doesn’t work out. While it’s unfortunate, it is an inherent risk and the nature of the game. But then again who’s to say they lost. Maybe they will start looking at viable agriculture enterprises and turn their property into a booming sustainable business.
186 Tingle Road
Winlock, WA 98596
Attached: A Question and an Equation
Other supporting documents and resources to follow along with a comment
about Heidi Peroni’s statement regarding affordable agriculture land.
P.S. I have just taken the opportunity to begin to review the written copy of the Final report of the TAC. While I haven’t reviewed most of it, several parts stand out that I need to comment on:
10. Closing Comments
e. “Where years ago proximity to market was a key factor
products, modern transportation has largely eliminated proximity as a
factor.” My comment: This was true in the past, but modern transportation is
changing with the peak oil crisis and remains part of the unpredictable
future. Proximity may become a key ingredient. This again points to the
dynamic of change and what worked one century may not the next, or
vice versa. One should not de-designate agriculture land on this basis. It is not
an absolute. Absolutes should be the only criteria, otherwise the land should
be designated agriculture.
f. “Unfortunately, the county only has 11,000 acres
of farms with existing water
rights and no good prospect of increasing the size given the competition of
incorported cities seeking increased water supplies.” My comment: What
needs to change here is giving water to cities and industries. Agriculture should be the first priority.
g. “…; however, it is not expected that sufficient interest will be generated in
niche farming….” My comment: This is an opinion and not something on
which to base ARL designation, and clearly points to the County’s agenda to de-designate agriculture land.
h. see g.
i. ii. My comment: If land becomes worth its weight
in gold the bankers
will respond accordingly. Hedging our bets that this won’t happen means
gambling something I’m not willing to lose. A tough but important call.
iii. My comment: Responded to in previous text.
iv. My comment: Rersponded to in previous text.
(The following links are in no particular order and more will be added as time permits.)
The lecture is a powerful call for including the word "local" in the definition of socially responsible businesses. It takes a deep commitment to a particular place and substantial effort to weave together all the threads of that place--people, land, and community--to create new economies that can counteract the devastating effects of the global economy.
Judy Wicks is by example an intent, a leader in building these new economies.
In addition to founding the White Dog Cafe, the White Dog Foundation, and
the Black Cat retail store, Judy Wicks is co-founder of BALLE (Business Alliance
for Local Living Economies) with chapters throughout North America. Among
the numerous awards Judy has won are the prestigious Business Enterprise Trust
Award, founded by Norman Lear for creative leadership in combining sound business
management with social vision, and "Business Ethics" magazine's
first Living Economy Award. White Dog Cafe has been chosen as one of "American
Benefactor's" twenty-five most generous companies and one of "Conde
Nast Traveler's" top fifty American restaurants. "Inc."
magazine included Wicks as one of its twenty-five favorite entrepreneurs in
Following are some of our favorite quotes from "Good Morning Beautiful Business."
Susan Witt and Alexandra Penny, E. F. Schumacher Society Board of Directors: Starling Childs, Hildegarde Hannum, Eric Harris-Braun, Constance Packard, Katie Smith, Benjamin Strauss, Ganson Taggart, and Nancy Jack Todd. Board of Founders: Ian Baldwin, David Ehrenfeld, Satish Kumar, John McClaughry, and Kirkpatrick Sale. Advisory Board: Tanya Berry, Thomas Berry, Wendell Berry, Olivia Dreier, Jane Jacobs, Hazel Henderson, Wes Jackson, Amory Lovins, John McKnight, David Orr, Michael Shuman, Cathrine Sneed, Lewis Solomon, John Todd, Greg
Watson, and Arthur Zajonc.
* * * * * * * *
Quotes from "Good Morning Beautiful Business" by Judy Wicks
Business is about relationships with all the people we work with and buy from and sell to. My business is the way I express my love for the world, and that is what makes it a thing of beauty.
Today much of what I care about--nature and animals, community, family farms, family businesses, indigenous cultures, the character of our towns and cities, even our children's future--is being threatened by corporate globalization. In order to protect all that I care deeply about, I needed to step out of my own company, out of the White Dog Cafe, and start to work together with other businesses to build an alternative to corporate globalization. I started my journey with the simple premise that a sustainable "global" economy must be comprised of sustainable "local" economies. Rather than a global economy controlled by large multinational corporations, our movement envisions a global economy with a decentralized network of local economies made up of what we call living enterprises: small, independent, locally owned businesses of human scale. These living enterprises create community wealth and vitality while working in harmony with natural systems.
Many business schools teach students to leave their values at home when they go to work. We teach our children the Golden Rule at home, but in the workplace gold rules. I believe this has caused a lot of unhappiness because most of our waking hours during our working years are spent in the workplace, and when our values at work aren't aligned with our personal values, we lead unsatisfied lives.
We also are faced with a political crisis in which multinational corporations are increasingly dominating our lives--the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the news we see and hear--and controlling our government. Politicians and government administrators, who are frequently former CEOs and lobbyists, often owe their jobs to the corporations that fund political campaigns. The merger of corporate interests with government is defined as fascism. We need to bring power and freedom back to "we the people." We can do that by transforming our economy.
In the process of building local economies, many small businesses will be created--businesses that grow, distribute, and process food, making preserves, sauces, and soups from local farm products, as well as businesses that design and make clothing from locally grown fiber crops.
When a product is not available locally, consumers should buy in a way that helps and supports the local community where the product, such as coffee or chocolate, originated. It's important to know where your purchase comes from, to know that through fair trade other communities in other parts of the country or the world are the beneficiaries of the purchase.
We are taught that we're losers if we don't pay the lowest price as consumers, earn the highest profit as business people, and make the highest return as investors. We need a revolution in values so that we will value life more than money and so that we can make decisions as consumers and business owners and government leaders in our enlightened self-interest, at the same time benefiting all of life.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of the local-living-economy movement is that by creating self-reliance we are creating the foundations for world peace. If all communities had food security, water security, and energy security, if they appreciated diversity of culture rather than a monoculture, that would be the foundation for world peace.
Italy - 24/10/2004
MADRE - Agriculture The Most Important Of Humanity's Productive Activities
By HRH The Prince of Wales, who gave the closing speech on Saturday October23
Center for Rural Massachusetts
For too long, environmental organizations have looked at natural resources, land use planners looked at zoning tools and economic development groups looked at tax bases, each with little consideration of the whole picture. CRM now strives to employ the most advanced tools and techniques to help bring about an amalgamation of these approaches to local planning and rural development... More
Character in New England:
Perceptions of Alternative Residential Subdivision Design
This study explores the attitudes of local rural residents, planners, and homebuilders/developers towards rural character and subdivision design, with a focus on their perceptions of new and/or alternative subdivision design (i.e. cluster or conservation subdivisions). This work examines these perceptions in order to build an understanding of the values placed on rural landscapes by rural residents, planning officials, and developers, and to assess the perceived relationship between rural character, open space, and (new) subdivision design.
This letter was written to the City of Yelm in response the potential construction of Wal-Mart in the Yelm area by State Rep. Tom Campbell who sits on the House Transportation Committee. The comment below about the whole transportation infrastructure crumbling statewide should be given careful consideration by any city and county planners.
Monday, July 18, 2005
To whom it may concern:
I am concerned that the process underway to allow the construction of a Wal-Mart store in the Yelm area has proceeded with some incorrect assumptions regarding traffic capacity and construction.
The timelines for construction of the northern spur (Y3) of the 510 Loop is estimated to begin construction in 2011, possibly finished by the year 2012. I have seen recent quotes in the media of the whole project will be completed by 2010. This is a false statement and the record must be set straight.
I serve on the House Transportation Committee and in this capacity was able in the 2005-2007 Transportation Budget to secure thirty three million dollars for the purchase of the rights of way and completion of the engineering portion of the northern spur of the 510 Loop, not the entire project. I have conferred with the Department of Transportation and their field representative for this area and he has confirmed to my office that “there is no funding beyond the present northern spur of the 510 Loop and we do not know when we will be able to complete it”.
Given the current very real possibility that I-912 the Gas Tax Repeal will be adopted by the voters I am not even certain that we will be able to deliver the northern spur portion by the projected completion date of 2012.
Our whole transportation infrastructure is crumbling statewide, and further funding if I-912 is adopted is extremely unlikely. We will have to compete with critical safety projects with the little discretionary funding that will be left to the Legislature and the Department of Transportation.
In short, this added stress on the roads of the Yelm area is unacceptable and a bad risk for the people who live and work there. I would ask that you seriously consider the above information in your decision. I am responsible for providing assistance at the State level; I am the one who must do everything to meet the needs of the people of Yelm. Please do not move forward on false assumptions.
I do not believe that we can honestly guarantee the needed funds to properly handle the added traffic that this development will require.
State Representative Tom Campbell
Details of the proceedings can be found in today’s Nisqually Valley Newspaper, Friday’s edition is on newsstands.