At Ruby Ranch in Chimacum, the Goulartes currently raise a herd of grass-fed beef cattle. The couple is eager to begin diversifying their farm’s offerings using some of the funds from the new conservation easement.
Joe Goularte at Ruby Ranch in Beaver Valley.
We’re celebrating the permanent protection of another family farm in Chimacum with the purchase of a conservation easement on Ruby Ranch. This 65-acre property owned by Joe and Val Goularte is located in the fertile bottomlands of Beaver Valley. The Goulartes currently raise a herd of grass-fed beef cattle and are eager to begin diversifying their farm’s offerings using some of the funds from the easement.
Inspired by the agricultural revival happening in the Chimacum community, Joe and Val are excited about their plans to expand and increase their farm’s contribution to our local food system. The couple is also thrilled that the land they’ve come to love is now permanently protected. Joe explains, “We wanted to preserve this land as open space, in a way that demonstrates a harmony between food production and conservation of our environment.”
In addition to conserving valuable farmland, the protection of Ruby Ranch also represents an opportunity to restore salmon habitat and provide access for wildlife. The farm is bisected by the east fork of Chimacum Creek, which carries Coho salmon, resident Cutthroat Trout, and winter Steelhead.
In November 2018, members of the Land Trust’s Conservation Project Committee met with Joe Goularte (in gold) at Ruby Ranch to assess the conservation values of the property to see whether it met our protection criteria.
Joe and Val are committed to the restoration of this important watershed and have sought the support of our local Conservation District to guide them as they seek to restore their section of the creek. Establishing a healthy riparian buffer allows safe and healthy passage for migrating salmon, as well as providing shelter for birds and amphibians. The Ruby Ranch property also expands and enhances a local wildlife corridor by keeping a portion of the land open in Beaver Valley, which will allow wildlife to travel more easily between Chimacum Ridge and Mats Mats Ridge.
The Land Trust has been working with Joe and Val since November 2016 to protect Ruby Ranch. “Agricultural conservation easements not only protect farmlands from subdivision and other development, they often allow farmers to reinvest in their businesses, which in turn makes our local food system even stronger,” notes Director of Conservation Sarah Spaeth. “I’m very excited that we’ve been able to do this for the Goulartes and for our community. In fact, the support from the new easement will allow Joe and Val to transition to full-time farming and begin implementing their exciting plans for agricultural growth.”
Joe Goularte (left) at Ruby Ranch in 2018 with Al Cairns, former Jefferson County Conservation District manager. Joe and Val have asked the Conservation District for guidance, as they restore their section of Chimacum Creek.
The Goulartes’ vision for Ruby Ranch’s future includes expanding their orchard production to contribute pears and apples to the flourishing local cider industry. The couple also plans to grow a variety of fruit and vegetables to offer through local markets and a community supported agriculture (CSA) service.
Since 1991, working with many partners, Jefferson Land Trust has helped protect more than 2,300 acres of farmland, forests, and habitat in the Chimacum watershed, and helped bring about a farming renaissance in the region.
The permanent protection of Ruby Ranch was made possible with support from Jefferson County Conservation Future Funds, the Navy REPI program, numerous private foundations, and individual donors who support farmland conservation. Thanks to this critical support, another important family farm in the tapestry of Chimacum’s agricultural land has been protected forever.