Aerial shot of Kawamoto Farm in autumn. Photo by John Gussman.
This month, Jefferson Land Trust, Jefferson LandWorks Collaborative, and other community partners hosted two “open houses” at Kawamoto Farm in Quilcene. The site visits were offered to the 65 parties who submitted letters of interest following a request for proposal (RFP) process that offered farmers a unique opportunity to apply to purchase the 148-acre historic Japanese American farm at a significantly reduced price.
Over a hundred people came to tour Kawamoto Farm on October 9 and 11. Representatives from the Kawamoto family, Jefferson LandWorks Collaborative, and Jefferson Land Trust were on hand to answer applicants’ questions, familiarize them with the property, and hear about their hopes for the farm.
“It was very inspiring to be there and hear the extraordinary vision, ideas, and clear passion of the farmers,” says Kate Godman, the Land Trust’s Director of Philanthropy.
Kawamoto Farm was founded 100 years ago, in 1921, and the historic barn still stands.
With the help of community partners, Jefferson LandWorks Collaborative’s Kawamoto Farm Selection Committee shared the RFP far and wide earlier this fall, offering translation services and pooling resources to make the process as equitable and accessible as possible. When the Land Trust posted the RFP on our Facebook page, we received an overwhelming response: the post was shared hundreds of times and viewed by tens of thousands of people.
“We were really glad to receive applications from farmers from so many different backgrounds, with a broad range of experiences and interests,” says Blaise Sullivan, Conservation and Stewardship Coordinator at Jefferson Land Trust. “The enthusiastic response has highlighted what a rare opportunity this offers farmers, and demonstrates the clear demand for more available, accessible, and agriculturally-priced farmland.”
Interior view of the historic, hand-built barn.
Following the site visits at Kawamoto Farm, interested parties were invited to submit a full application for consideration to the Kawamoto Farm Selection Committee, which is made up of LandWorks partners and community members. The committee will evaluate applications through December.
Generous private donations and funding from the Navy’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI) are making it possible for two easements to be placed on Kawamoto Farm — one that restricts development and one that prescribes conservation management practices for the forest and farmland. These easements will ensure that 148 acres of historic farmland, working forestland, and wildlife habitat are protected forever; they also effectively reduce the market value of the farm, making it more affordable for potential farmers.
After the new buyer is selected and the purchase of the farm is finalized, Jefferson Land Trust will work with local partners and the Kawamoto family to create an interpretive display at the farm to honor the farm’s Japanese American heritage and history.
We would like to thank the individual donors, the US Navy, and our community partners and members of the LandWorks committee who are helping make this groundbreaking opportunity possible. As we move into the new year, we look forward to offering more opportunities to protect agricultural lands for the benefit of farmers, families, and wildlife in Jefferson County.
Read more about the Kawamoto Family and Kawamoto Farm.