This map depicts one possible vision for the Chimacum Commons property
We have closed on 15.7 acres of undeveloped agricultural land right off Highway 19 in the middle of Chimacum, literally right around the corner from the Chimacum Corner Farmstand.
With this purchase, funded through a loan from the Kilham Revolving Fund, we will protect a prime piece of rich farmland from development to remain available for future generations of farmers, and build on salmon-habitat protection along the Chimacum Creek corridor. But the potential future for this land is much more exciting than that. With community willl, hard work, and a little luck, this land can also present an opportunity to create solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing local farms and agricultural economy into the future.
One of the exciting possibilities envisioned by intern Anna Brady and the land trust project team is a place to grow not only food but farmers themselves. Chimacum Commons: An agricultural hub offering affordable, ecological housing; a place for beginning farmers make a start; a community of young people deriving livelihood from the land.
Following the example of more than 150 “incubator farms” nationwide, the Chimacum Commons property could provide crucial access to land for beginning farmers. Even a small plot of free or inexpensive land can be enough to allow aspiring farmers to jumpstart their businesses. Incubator farms across the country have proven effective at supporting startup farm businesses.
In addition to land, the “incubator farm” model provide an even bigger boost to new farm businesses with access to infrastructure like greenhouses, implements, local investments, and mentoring, allowing young farmers to begin growing their businesses without the steep initial overhead investment that can cripple so many new agricultural ventures.
As an “incubator farm,” the majority of the Chimacum Commons property would be preserved from development through a conservation easement, providing crucial access to land for beginning farmers and farm businesses far into the future.
Conservation easements often include “building envelopes,” specific areas set aside for development and maintenance of limited infrastructure. Availability of affordable, accessible housing for farm workers and interns in our area is extremely limited and much needed. Access to housing is an obstacle to the workers and interns who would like to pursue a career in farming, and to the farmers who need a young, strong workforce but cannot house them. At Chimacum Commons, an area of clustered, affordable, ecological, high-density housing for farm interns, workers, and beginning farmers could provide a convenient, centrally-located housing hub for workers and interns.
Following this model, this piece of land could seed and nurture new business, bolster the profitability of existing farms and draw a greater pool of interns and workers to our area. The future of this property is still in the process of being envisioned and explored with a feasibility study. The Land Trust must ensure we can epay the loan that funded the purchase, and ensure the land is legally, permanently protected. And what else might be possible beyond that? Community input, support, will, and energy will be crucial in determining the future for this property.