Please take note:
We have just learned that a really great farm in Vinegar Flats that has to date been known as Urban Eden Farm has changed its name to the Vinegar Flats Farm. For years, the Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group has referred to the 48-acre farm just south of Vinegar Flats that we have been working to preserve as the "Vinegar Flats Farm". So as to avoid confusion, we will now start referring to the farm we are trying to save as the Kampa Farm in recognition of the Kampa family who farmed it for many decades. It might take us a while to make the change throughout this website, so we ask for your understanding.
Michael Baumgartner, Treasurer, Spokane County (added 03/30/2021)
Breean Beggs, City Council President, City of Spokane
Lori Kinnear, Spokane City Council Member, District 2
Betsy Wilkerson, Spokane City Council Member, District 2
Brian McClatchey, Director of Political and Intergovernmental Affairs, City of Spokane
Erik Poulsen, Manager of Intergovernmental Affairs, City of Spokane
Garret Jones, Director, Spokane Parks and Recreation, City of Spokane
Kara Odegard, Manager of Sustainability Initiatives, City of Spokane
Mary Kuney, Spokane County Commissioner
Doug Chase, Director, Spokane County Parks, Recreation & Golf
Paul Knowles, Spokane County Parks, Recreation and Golf
Dear Spokane Decision-makers,
We live in Spokane because, as the promotional slogan goes, it's "near nature, near perfect." One of the factors that makes this slogan ring true is the fact that Spokane County is still blessed with over half a million acres of productive farmland. The sad truth is, however, that current policies are failing to preserve Spokane's food security and quality of life by not effectively protecting our precious farmland from being lost forever to development.
A community is only ever given so much farmland. Once it's built over, it's gone forever.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted weaknesses in our food system that were already known prior to the outbreak of the virus. It has now become clear that we as a community must read the writing on the wall and act to strengthen our local and regional food system. One way to do this is to make sure we do not needlessly lose prime agricultural farmland in our region to development pressures. Another way is to build up our capacity to produce food locally for local consumption while ensuing that folks of all income levels can access it. This can take the form of promoting and supporting more local food production including more regional farms, community gardens and even community farms.
A recent report by the American Farmland Trust, a national farmland preservation organization, called Farms Under Threat, concluded that Washington State has five times as many farmers over the age of 65 than farmers under the age of 35. We must help younger folks who want to farm (and there are many) to learn the craft and take up the task of producing food in our region. An excellent way to do this would be by creating an urban agriculture education center at the former Kampa Farm.
Recent conditional approval by the Planning Department of a permit for constructing ninety-four homes on 48-acres of zoned agricultural land just south of the Vinegar Flats neighborhood (a.k.a the Pilcher Farm or Kampa Farm) is the latest example of the failure of local government to live up to its own commitments, specified in the Comprehensive Plan to "preserve, protect and restore unique and non-renewable resources or features such as wetlands, wildlife habitat, agricultural areas, and special natural areas [and] protect Comprehensive Plan-designated agricultural lands for continued agriculture use."
We oppose the plan to destroy these 48 acres of farmland by allowing the completion of the planned development known as the "Deep Pine Overlook." All of the land where the houses would be built is classified by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service as "prime farmland." It’s also an area prone to flooding, even catastrophic flooding, despite assurances from the developers that down-play the flood risk. The risk of catastrophic flooding brings into question whether it’s an appropriate place for a dense housing development or better preserved as open space.
Neighbors in the area are very concerned that a new housing development of this size would worsen traffic flows on a stretch of State Route 195 already notoriously hazardous.
Concern is also great about increased pollution of Hangman Creek that runs adjacent to the property. It's already one of the state's most polluted waterways.
It is important to note that this parcel has for years been near the top of the list of Spokane County Conservation Futures potential land acquisitions.
We are heartened and encouraged by the fact that last year twenty people representing city and county government and independent conservation organizations spent two hours touring the property and discussed potential strategies for how to piece together a funding plan for the public purchase of this property. Furthermore, we support this parcel becoming city-owned farmland to be managed by a partnership of non-profit and educational institutions for the purposes of growing food for local consumption, using regenerative methods and permaculture principles and establishing a community learning center for teaching small-scale farming skills, urban agriculture and other agrarian arts.
03/30/2021 Update: We are further heartened by the recent proposal by Spokane County Treasurer Michael Baumgartner to use Spokane Public Investment Funds to support a local public financing option towards the purchase of the Kampa Farm. This would be a real breakthrough!
Thank you for your continuing attention to this vital initiative,