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Save the Kampa Farm in Vinegar Flats

Side by side picture of farmland and the development plans.

Add your name to our letter to Spokane decision-makers

Sign it Now

The LEAF Heritage Project

In late October 2020, JRP Land, LLC, the property owners, hosted a tour for city and county staff and others interested in public acquisition. Representatives from several conservation organizations, City of Spokane officials and a Spokane County Commissioner gathered at the farm, located just south of the Vinegar Flats neighborhood, to discuss its future. After the tour, the landowners expressed their continuing interest in selling the property to the City or County if a suitable plan were to be offered, however, they also reiterated their interest in selling the property to an interested developer unless they see a clear plan for public acquisition soon. This plan needs to be turned into a purchase agreement and could be contingent on generating the funds for a complete cash out transaction within a few years. The purchase price for the property is expected to be around $3 million.

Since the tour in late October, an ad hoc group made up of city staff, local nonprofits including the Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group and interested citizens has been meeting in an effort to come up with a plan for public acquisition. We call this effort the Latah Environmental, Agricultural & Fisheries Heritage Project, or LEAF. The task force is working feverishly to draft a plan for the purchase and preservation of the property and is developing potential scenarios for funding and management.

This wonderful video was produced by Friends of the Bluff, a community group of volunteers formed in 2010 to be stewards of the High Drive Bluff Park in Spokane, WA.

Background:

In 2019, the Hearing Examiner for the City of Spokane issued a decision and conditionally approved a developer’s application to build a 94-unit gated community on what is currently farmland in Vinegar Flats.  The development project is known as "Deep Pine Overlook."

  • The 48 acres are part of the City of Spokane’s only “Residential Agricultural” planning zone and has been farmed for over 100 years. Most of the land where the houses would be built is classified by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service as "prime farmland."
  • There are only 152 acres of "Residential Agricultural" land in the City. This parcel accounts for 32% of that non-renewable resource.
  • The property has two extremely valuable agricultural water rights sufficient to irrigate a productive farming operation.
  • This parcel is in an area prone to flooding, even catastrophic flooding, which 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 traffic would worsen on a stretch of State Route 195 already notoriously hazardous with a new housing development of this size.
  • There is great concern about increased pollution of Hangman Creek that runs adjacent to the property. It's already one of the state's most polluted waterways.

See our 2019 Sign-on letter with 140+ signatories asking that the farm be saved from development.
 

We Can Do Better!

The Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group favors public purchase of the property and its use be dedicated to:

  • Growing food for local consumption, using regenerative methods and permaculture principals;
  • Providing free access to the public through the property to High Drive Bluff Park; 
  • The establishment of a community education center for learning small-scale farming skills, urban agriculture and other agrarian arts.

This parcel has been at the top of the list of potential land acquisitions which is maintained by the Spokane County Conservation Futures Program.

 

What is the Conservation Futures Program?

In 1994, voters approved the Spokane County Conservation Futures Program authorizing a property tax levy of (up-to) 6.25-cents per $1000 of property value, in order to acquire and preserve Spokane County's open space, streams, rivers, and other natural resources. What many people in the County don't realize is that the intent of the Washington State legislature when they passed the enabling legislation to launch the Conservation Futures Program was primarily to keep productive farmland in production.

84.34.010
Legislative declaration

The legislature hereby declares that it is in the best interest of the state to maintain, preserve, conserve and otherwise continue in existence adequate open space lands for the production of food, fiber and forest crops, and to assure the use and enjoyment of natural resources and scenic beauty for the economic and social well-being of the state and its citizens. 

This land is already near the top of the list of land being considered for purchase by Conservation Futures. It's imperative we pull together enough community resources to tip the balance and go forward with this important preservation project.

Public concern about the fate of farmland in Vinegar Flats is having an effect.

Over 130 individuals and organizations have signed on to our letter to City and County leaders asking them to take action to save the farm from development and they are responding. We are grateful. Together we are moving the needle! As a community, we are closer to preserving this farmland than ever before. 

Moving the Needle!
Important new developments regarding the possibility of saving the former Kampa Farm from development

Read the March 2020 Update

Read article


Read the October 2020 Update

Read article

Read the November 2020 Update

Read more...

There are several ways you can help save this farmland.

  • Write letters to these officials expressing your support for preserving this farmland and urging them to convene negotiations between the City and interested parties to complete the acquisition of the former Kampa Farm by Conservation Futures:
    • Breean Beggs
      City Council President
      City Hall, 7th floor
      808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
      Spokane, WA 99201
      bbeggs@spokanecity.org

    • Doug Chase, Director
      Spokane County Parks, Recreation & Golf
      404 N Havana Street
      Spokane, WA 99202
      dchase@spokanecounty.org

    • Lori Kinnear
      City Council Member, District 2
      City Hall, 7th floor
      808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
      Spokane, WA 99201
      lkinnear@spokanecity.org

    • Betsy Wilkerson
      City Council Member, District 2
      City Hall, 7th floor
      808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
      Spokane, WA 99201
      bwilkerson@spokanecity.org

  • Write a letter to the Editor favoring preservation of this farmland;
  • Join the Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group and bring your passion for local food and agriculture to the fore;

  • Add your name to our sign-on letter to Spokane decision-makers: "We support your efforts to save the Kampa Farm."

  • Donate to the Farmland Preservation Fund.
    Until further notice, money donated to this fund will be pooled to go towards the purchase of the Kampa Farm property or easement .
     
  • Donate to support the Working Group.
    Contributes to paying our organizational expenses.

 

View of threatened Spokane farmland.

Some of Spokane's most threatened farmland, Vinegar Flats.

Wouldn't you rather this land look like this?

Artist's conception of Vinegar Flats Farm by L.R. Montgomery
Artist's conception of the Urban Agriculture Education Center at the former Kampa Farm in full swing
by Spokane artist and conservationist L.R. Montgomery

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.