Chimacum farmworkers in Chimacum. Photo by Mae Wolfe.
In 2014, the Land Trust purchased a 15.7-acre agricultural property in the heart of Chimacum, right around the corner from the Chimacum Corner Farmstand. We called this property “Chimacum Commons,” and had a threefold vision for the project: 1) to protect this valuable farmland in Chimacum Valley’s agricultural corridor, 2) to conserve and restore the 625 feet of Chimacum Creek salmon habitat running along the property’s western border, and 3) to find a partner willing to build and manage affordable and ecologically sound housing for food system workers on the portion of the property most suited for development.
Some of Chimacum’s productive farmland. Photo by Casey Scalf.
As a land trust, our mission, focus, and expertise do not include housing development and management, but the tools we use to protect and conserve land can open up opportunities for partnerships with housing advocates that can advance shared goals. This project initially succeeded on two important fronts — the farmland was protected and the salmon habitat was improved. However, finding a partner willing to develop and manage the food system housing proved to be a challenge.
For almost 10 years we’ve continued to care for the property and we eventually leased the majority of the land to local farmers to keep it in agricultural production, hoping that our affordable housing vision for the property could someday be realized. Today, we’re pleased to share that we’ve partnered with Olympic Housing Trust (OHT) to examine the potential of developing affordable housing for local food system workers on a portion of the Chimacum Commons property. OHT is a nonprofit housing provider serving Jefferson and Clallam counties that aspires to use a variety of tools to ensure affordability.
To this end, the team at OHT is conducting an online feasibility survey to receive input from those who work in the local food system (farms, grocery stores, restaurants, food distribution, etc.) about their housing needs.
We encourage you to fill out the survey if you work in the local food system, and/or share the survey with people you know who do. The survey should only take a few minutes.
Currently, a portion of the land at Chimacum Commons is leased to the awesome farmers of Creaky Knees Farm, who work hard to keep the land in production. Keeping this land in agricultural production is central to the mission of the Land Trust and, however the project evolves, we’ll ensure that any housing project pursued on the site will support this core farming function.