The three-legged stool is widely used as an analogy for all sorts of issues. Three strong legs supporting a platform will always be stable, even on an uneven surface. However, if one of the legs is missing, the integrity of the stool is compromised and it’s not too long before a second leg breaks, leaving a completely useless one-legged stool.
Imagine our local food economy as the seat of a stool, supported by three legs. One leg represents the local consumer. Just as vital as the other two legs, but easily the weakest, we as consumers are often lulled into complacency by the convenience of one-stop shopping. Shopping at the Saturday Farmer’s market or an independently owned grocery store are good ways to strengthen this leg.
The second leg represents the Farmer. It was recently reported that the average age of the American farmer is 57 and on the rise. This shows that the majority of American farmers are growing older with no-one younger to replace them. In our area, Nash Huber has been “growing’ new farmers for years, keeping this leg strong for near the future.
Finally, the third leg represents farmland. According to the most recent Agricultural Census available, Clallam County lost nearly 54,000 acres of farmland between 1950 and 2007 – more than 70 percent of available farmland in the county. This gradual but enormous loss has left what was once a thriving agricultural community with very little of its original identity.
Fortunately in 2000 a group of visionary local citizens concerned about the continued loss of farmland, formed a non-profit organization called Friends of the Fields. The efforts of this group have resulted in the preservation of nearly 300 acres of prime farmland in Clallam County with the purchase of development rights and subsequent placing of conservation easements.
Putting trust in the Trust
In 2010 Friends of the Fields became a division of the North Olympic Land Trust, a merger that has proven greatly beneficial to both organizations. Their most recent success story is the preservation of the 10-acre 24 Carrot Farm this past spring.
It is hard to say which leg may be more critical to our local food economy stool, but it certainly wouldn’t exist at all without farmland. There always will be those who want to pursue farming and those who support their local farmers; but will there always be available farmland?
The Friends of the Fields continue to ensure the answer to that question is “yes!” In addition to working tirelessly throughout the year, Friends of the Fields holds an annual fundraising event commemorating the local harvest.
The 14th annual Friends of the Fields Harvest Dinner “celebrating our rural character, cultural heritage and local food” will take place from 5-8 p.m. Saturday,
Sept. 28, at Sunland Country Club. The participation of local food producers and local chefs planning an unforgettable meal highlighting our local bounty is what makes this event special.
The menu this year is being prepared by Gabriel Schuenemann, head chef and co-owner of the Alder Wood Bistro in Sequim. Gabriel has a special way of elevating local food to new heights and is also the rare chef who can produce a meal for hundreds that is every bit as delicious as the Bistro’s nightly fare.
If you have an interest in helping to preserve local farmland, have a seat on the three-legged food economy stool and attend the Harvest Dinner. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about local farms and their vital role in our community while enjoying fabulous food. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the North Olympic Land Trust website at
www.northolympiclandtrust.org/events.html or call them at 360-417-1815.
Eat well and be well at the Harvest Dinner!