Category Archives: Conservation Legacy

New Working Farmland Protection Program Updates

We have brand new content in our Land Conservation section! See our Working Farmland Protection page to learn how we’re helping ensure farmland remains available for current and future generations of farmers. The section now includes information on landowner options, program participation benefits, information on working farmland easements and much more.

Announcing our 2019 Partners in Conservation grants!

Recently-planted red flowering currant at a grant project restoration site

The East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District announces its 2019 Partners in Conservation (PIC) grants totaling $622,362 awarded to 20 conservation and environmental education projects in the EMSWCD service area (all of Multnomah County east of the Willamette River). PIC funding for 2019 will also leverage more than $3 million in additional support through matching in-kind and cash contributions!

EMSWCD received 29 PIC applications this year, representing projects in each of its five primary grant program areas: restoration and monitoring, stormwater management and naturescaping, urban gardening and sustainable agriculture, environmental education, and equitable access to conservation benefits. To ensure a thorough and fair evaluation of the applications, the grant review committee included an EMSWCD Board Director and others from a diverse range of backgrounds and expertise, including members of the community and staff from non-profits and public agencies.

The EMSWCD Board of Directors awarded 20 grants, including support for three two-year projects. A wide variety of projects were funded this year, including a $50,000 two-year grant to Outgrowing Hunger, an organization focused on nurturing connection to nature, food and community among immigrant and refugee populations. Outgrowing Hunger currently operates 12 community garden sites in East Multnomah County, provides supplies and tools, and offers culturally relevant and language specific garden workshops and education to its gardeners. Funding will provide access to sustainable, watershed-friendly urban agriculture and gardening, provide education and technical support, and build a new community garden. Read more

2017 Agricultural Census Demonstrates Need for EMSWCD’s Working Farmland Initiatives

rows of vegetables at Headwaters Farm, and a row of greenhouses in the background

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the final 2017 Census of Agriculture figures in mid-April; statistics for all of Multnomah County are available here. The census findings highlight the importance of EMSWCD’s working farmland protection efforts, as Multnomah County lost 15% of its farmland from 2012 to 2017 – or about 2.5 acres a day.

Farmers in Multnomah County are on average 2 years younger than their peers across Oregon and the US, which is reinforced by our Headwaters Incubator Program for new and beginning farmers. And with the average per-acre value of agricultural land and buildings increasing 75% in Multnomah County to the second highest of any county in Oregon, the importance of our work to improve access to affordable farmland is greater than ever.

Important milestone for the Working Farmland Protection Program

East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) is pleased to announce that the working farmland protection component of its Land Legacy Program has closed on the acquisition of its first-ever working farmland easement. This month, EMSWCD secured the permanent protection of a 57-acre farm property in the Gresham area.

The acquisition of the easement occurred in conjunction with the sale of the property, which EMSWCD had owned since 2011. EMSWCD acquired the property when it was listed for sale and at risk of no longer being available for productive use by the local farming community. Proceeds from the sale will be used by EMSWCD to protect additional working farm properties.

A working farmland easement is a legally binding blueprint for the future of the property which ensures it will remain in active and highly productive agricultural use. The recently released U.S. Department of Agriculture Census of Agriculture underscores the need for these working farmland protection efforts, with Multnomah County losing an average of 2.5 acres of farmland a day during the period from 2012 to 2017.

The easement for this property also seeks to address the growing challenges of farmland access and affordability. Farmland affordability is a challenge in Multnomah County, with the Census of Agriculture finding a 75% increase in the value of farmland and buildings from 2012 – 2017 and the second highest average farmland/farm building values of any county in Oregon. The easement incorporates provisions that ensure the property will remain in the ownership of a farmer and limits residential infrastructure that could make the property unaffordable for agricultural operators. As part of the transaction, EMSWCD also secured an option to acquire a working farmland easement on another 20-acre property owned by the buyers. Read more

Public hearing notice regarding conservation easement for working farmland: March 28th, 2019

EMSWCD will hold a public hearing on March 28th, 2019 at 5:00 PM at Multnomah Grange #71, 30639 SE Bluff Road, Gresham, OR 97080 in connection with the acquisition of a conservation easement for working farmland. This easement is being acquired in connection with the sale of EMSWCD’s Oxbow Farm and will ensure the property remains in agricultural use in perpetuity.

EMSWCD acquired the property in 2011, when it was listed for sale. At the time, EMSWCD was concerned that a sale could result in the local farming community losing access to one of the most productive farms within our district. That concern motivated EMSWCD to purchase the property and then make it available for lease to two Multnomah County farmers. Read more

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