Lewis County Farm Bureau Hoping to Add More Producers to 2018 Farm Map

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Deadline: Lewis County Agrarians Can Apply Until March 15

THE CHRONICLE – JORDAN NAILON – The Lewis County Farm Bureau is busy sowing what they believe to be seeds of success in advance of the 2018 growing season. For the second year in a row, the Farm Bureau will put together a Lewis County Farm Guide complete with a map and contact information for local producers located from Pe Ell to Packwood and Vader to Galvin.

Last year’s inaugural rendition of the Lewis County Farm Guide included 26 local farms, ranches, nurseries, markets and honeybee services. This year, the Farm Bureau is hoping to double the participation by adding more farmers markets and restaurants in addition to traditional farms and ranch operations. At the same time, they plan to double the physical size of the color tri-fold style farm guide handout.

Maureen Harkcom, president of the Lewis County Farm Bureau, noted that her organization exists in order to act as an advocate for agricultural producers. She pointed out that farmers make up only about 1 percent of the voting population, and most Americans are at least three generations removed from the days of family farming. As a result, the general public and politicians often have a tenuous grasp on what realities farmers are actually facing in their day to day lives.

Harkcom says that the Farm Bureau exists in order to assist producers both economically and socially, and described the group as a “grassroots organization” that works closely with local decision makers in order to affect positive change.

“It’s local people telling the federal government what they need, not the other way around,” said Harkcom. “We need people to take care of farmers so that people can eat.”

The Lewis County Farm Guide is one of those local efforts hoping to assist not only area agricultural producers, but also the community in general. Last year, the Farm Bureau distributed about 10,00 copies of the farm guide, in conjunction with Discover Lewis County and the local WSU Extension Office.

“We were really pleased with that, especially for our first effort,” said Harkcom. “This project is to support agriculture in Lewis County and there is no charge to producers at all.”

The deadline for applications to be added to the 2018 Lewis County Farm Guide is March 15. Harkcom says she hopes to have the map sent to the printers by April 1 so that it will be ready in time for true spring. She added that in order to qualify for the Farm Guide an operation must be located within Lewis County and work primarily with products originating from Lewis County.

“If they’re not from Lewis County they’re not in there,” said Harkcom.

She noted that she has had to turn away otherwise qualified producers from the Rochester and Tenino areas in the past because they are located in south Thurston County.

“Now, that may sound harsh, but we really set out to help our Lewis County producers,” explained Harkcom.

Even if producers miss the March 15 deadline to apply for inclusion on the printed farm map, Harkcom says they should still submit an application because the online version of the guide can be updated at any time. Those late additions could then be placed on the hard copy of the farm guide the following year.

According to Harkcom, the changing dynamics of agriculture have made it more important than ever to support local producers. Even in a relatively agriculture-rich area like Lewis County, the impacts of a shifting food supply system have been wide reaching.

“Ag in Lewis County is a lot different than it used to be,” said Harkcom, who grew up on a local dairy farm herself. “We are trying to keep ag viable in Lewis County and we’re trying to show people where they can get healthy, nutritious food.”

Applications to be included in the 2018 Lewis County Farm Guide can be found online at extension.wsu.edu/lewis/. To obtain a physical copy of an application call Harkcom at 360-515-6129. The 2017 Lewis County Farm Guide can be found online at http://discoverlewiscounty.com/culture/2017-lewis-county-farm-guide.

Posted By: Jordan Nailon / jnailon@chronline.com

The Chronicle

Mar 13, 2018