Leafhopper Farm is now a Washington State Forest Stewardship property! Liz Crain completed the six week class through Washington State University on October 31, 2017. The farm now has a documented forestry plan, meaning there is a written record of tasks and plans for the wooded and soon to be wooded areas of the farm. Because of the some what unique circumstances of Leafhopper Farm, including its permaculture design which bridges agriculture and forestry. The plan has many new features of forestry planning (such as mushroom cultivation) written in. There is also a lot of food forest talk, meaning nut trees mixed in with native under-story trees like vine maple which makes good tool wood (handles for shovels and chisels).
The Forest Stewardship Plan meshes well with the King Conservation District Farm Plan. Both are guided by county regulation, and encourage land owners to play an active part in maintaining the land for the betterment of future generations. These concepts are not unique to Washington, and I would encourage everyone with land reading this to take a look at what kind fo stewardship planning your county offers. It’s a great way to learn more about your property, take action in maintaining health on your land, and enjoying the financial discounts that proactively engaging with your land can bring. In King County Washington, you do not have to have a lot of acreage to receive great financial incentives. So, even you postage stamp nesters or even multi-unit homes can steward the property with intention.
At Leafhopper Farm, we strive to better the landscape through holistic stewardship. We do not use chemicals to enhance the soil, or feed our animals anything other than USDA certified grains from a local mill. Weiss Creek is getting a generous stream buffer, which will be fenced in this winter. The materials bought to build a goof fence are partially paid for by KDC in a cost share program. They will also pay Liz $20/hr for her work putting up the fence. It’s a win win for all, with the county getting a commitment from the land owner to protect the salmon bearing stream, while offering cash to pay for the fencing and labor, giving Liz a wage for her work! It will also ensure the long lasting protection of sensitive riparian areas of the land, enriching the salmon populations of Washington, and maybe even, the greater West Coast.
For Liz, receiving the coveted Forest Stewardship sign is a landmark event she’s dreamed up since first becoming a land owner. It will be the first of many plaques she plans to work towards in her quest for conservation and biodiversity at Leafhopper Farm. Next on the docket for property improvement is a Public Benefits Rating System application (PBRS). This system adds up all the value added assets of your property, a salmon bearing stream for instance. Each asset has a point attached to it, and the more you have, the better your rating for public benefit. What do the points get you? Well, up to a 90% property tax reduction, which Leafhopper Farm does have the potential of earning. What’s the catch? You have to remain enrolled and participating for a full 10 years or you have to pay back the taxes, plus a 20% penalty. This sounds harsh, but it prevents people from making false commitments to the land.
Stewardship of place is about recognizing that the land is going to outlive you. Trees take several generations to reach maturity, rivers and lakes, streams and oceans will be flowing long after our blip in this living timeline. Holding the land in trust is an honor, and land ownership, though controversial for some, means responsibility and caring to me. My actions today will dictate the shape of things to come. There are also so many factors out of my hands, most of them acts of nature I cannot, and shall not attempt to dictate. May this wisdom carry on to future generations, along with the health and happiness already flowing freely from the landscape.