June 11, 2009 · Updated 3:22 PM
We thank you
Since we don’t know who you are, we hope you notice and read this. For the last few years, each month you would send us money in the mail. You did a good job of making sure that it would be sent anonymously. We are very grateful for your generosity. The money gave Pam and me the chance to do something without worrying about our budget situation. Pam and I made it a point to use the money doing something we wanted to do. That may seem selfish, but with our family dynamics it gave us a break and we thank you.
Once again we want to thank you and let you know we are eternally grateful.
KARL and PAM JENSEN
Small farmers being ignored in Kitsap County
It has always been an American historical tradition to grow some of our own food, whether a small herd or a crop, Americans have always considered using the land an inherent property right. Years ago, when the officials of Kitsap County were tasked with the Growth Management Act (GMA), one of the conditions was to protect agricultural lands from development and neighboring complaints.
Kitsap’s governmental response, at that time, was, “We have no agricultural land left?” and consequently bailed from any formal farm protection issues.
Well, some interesting statistics have surfaced from the recent Federal USDA farm census, between the years 2002 and 2007; small farms have grown by 13 percent in Kitsap County. The USDA defines small farms as a producer of $1,000 value or more of product. I suspect there are many, many more Kitsap small farmers who were missed in these surveys. (I also suspect there maybe a GMA lawsuit potential against the county for failing to inventory, identify and protect those farms).
All of the counties neighboring Kitsap have farmland protection plans, most have a county level “Right-to-Farm” ordinance (Kitsap does not), and some actually have separate zoning set aside for agricultural enterprises. It’s time for the current Kitsap administration to resolve the outstanding GMA provision of farmland protection, and the Department of Community Development needs to acknowledge the Washington State’s Right to Farm RCW, and allow our “growing” agricultural enterprises to expand and flourish — the public is demanding it. Local farmers markets and farm produce subscription (CSA’s) can’t keep up with the demand.
Locally produced food shouldn’t be a small “niche” market, expansion should be one of the ultimate goals of the current administration, and agricultural enterprises should get the same kind of support as any other Kitsap business, whether it is new greenhouses, farm stands or livestock housing.
It isn’t farmland without the farmer. Let’s remove some of the local barriers and let them farm. County attitudes must change. Farming is a small business enterprise and has vast economic impact on a local level. This needs to be recognized and valued.