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Sign-on Letter to Save Vinegar Flats Farmland

The form to sign on is below the letter.



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


Artist's conception of Vinegar Flats Farm by L.R. Montgomery

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 Vinegar Flats Farm. 

Recent conditional approval by the Planning Department of a permit for constructing ninety-four homes on 48-acres of zoned agricultural land in Vinegar Flats (a.k.a the Pilcher 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 recently 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.

Thank you for your continuing attention to this vital initiative,

Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group
Spokane, WA

Please note: By submitting this form, you agree that your name and city might be published on the Farmland Preservation Working Group website and in any other publication or publicity the Working Group creates to draw attention to this sign-on letter.
It has come to our attention that it will be important to demonstrate to local decision-makers that there is broad public support for the purchase and land-use strategy that the Working Group is advocating. Therefore, folks who sign on to this letter are encouraged to please include your zip code.
We reserve the right to selectively publish comments.

and the undersigned individuals and organizations:

Jess Johnson


Linea Jantz

Spokane Valley, WA

Tara Luedke


Janell Harvey


Beth Fairfax

The greater Spokane area is growing very fast and with that growth comes inevitable change but we need to carefully consider the future Spokane. It is vital to be good stewards of our rare remaining farmlands.

Cheryl Stebbins

The Pilcher Farm is not only beautiful and workable land, it’s also extremely accessible from downtown. It would be a prime location for teaching farm. I could see Skills-based high school being located there.
The Evergreen State College has a great example of a farm as classroom.
Please consider the long term health and sustainability of our city before allowing this great opportunity to be destroyed.

Kirsten Angell

This project is exactly what our community needs on multiple levels. If protected and brought back into production, this land can be used to educate our citizens about growing food and this will empower them. This project can also draw people together in a beautiful way, connecting them to the natural world and each other. This riparian corridor is vital to many species of 'other than human', so they will experience a benefit as well. This project will require the collaboration of multiple people and entities, which will knit our governing agencies and non-profits together. So much benefit could come from this creative endeavor. I truly hope this project will be given a chance.

Margaret Rogers

Medical Lake
This type of farm is part of the community as a local food source. It is also part of a sustainable model of food provision. The importance for the future cannot be overstated.

Debbie Stempf

Open land and farmland are both disappearing at a fast rate.
For future food security for the citizens of Spokane it's important to have near-by working farms.
We don't need more of our farmland paved over for housing! It is then lost forever........
Thank you.

Spokane Food Policy Council


william aal

Spokane Valley

W. Thomas Soeldner

Valleyford, WA
Preserving open space and farmland is critical for a sustainable and livable present and future Spokane. The Vinegar Flat land along Latah Creek is an excellent example of the sort of land that should be preserved as farmland for future generations.

Rev. Anna Marie Martin

Spokane, WA
We need to protect the arable lands near Spokane. This is a great project and I encourage you to consider it. We don't need more luxury homes: we need more coalitions to increase food security and provide job training.

Anita Morgan


Loretta Bertis

Preserving good local farmland is crucial and sensible for our immediate and future food quality security- there is other land that can be used for development. Please take the long view and work to secure this land for its best use - and in doing so, lead and inspire others to use land for its highest purpose for our community. Thank you.

Holly J Borba

The human immune system is completely dependent on total ecosystem health, especially soil/water/air quality. A healthy microbiome combats pathogens before antibodies do. What happens to soil happens to our bodies. Let's preserve good soil and teach others how to take care of it!!

Michael "Skeeter" Pilarski - Friends of the Trees Society

Port Hadlock, WA
Spokane should increase county food production, not lessen it. I have been a frequent visitor to Spokane since the mid 1970s. Shame on you if you let this land be developed for housing. Keep it farmland.

Huckleberry Range Community Collective

Gifford, WA

Edward Bryant

Spokane Valley

Lauren Davis


Ted Hensold

The City needs to revise its development ordinances to put real teeth into the Comp Plan language that purports to protect farmland.

Daya Goldschlag


Carrie west

Winslow, Bainbridge island
Please do all you can to preserve this farmland. It is super important. Thank you for considering this! Carrie West

Melissa Skomer-Kafton


Shaneese Dunigan


Sarah Knudsen


Jesse Johnson

Spokane, Wa
The pandemic proved that our food system is high insecure. For weeks people waited to get basic items at the grocery store such as bleach and spinach. 9 months into the pandemic there are still shortages. We need to preserve all the farmland we have because we can no longer solely rely on farms hundreds of miles away. Also, as the population grows and the effects of climate change begin to affect farmland, we will see even more shortages of food.

Darcey Byrne

I fully support the farmers and farmland from wonton development. This land would serve Spokane as a land trust for ever.

Marion Hammer



This effort is one next step in a new relationship with food. How we grow, harvest, prepare and eat it. Do it right and it nourishes our bodies and our souls. When I and other co-created the Spokane MarketPlace in the mid-nineties, one of our main reasons was to reconnect farmers and urban folk. That first MarketPlace has led to a flourishing of farmers markets across our community. This project brings farmers and farmland even closer in!

Mary Lou Johnson


Aaron Forbes


The Rev. Debra Conklin


Janelle King


Kelly J. Wieber


Whitney Jacques


Jennifer Brock Olson

I lived in Mesa, Arizona before moving to Spokane some 30+ years ago. I watched as orange and grapefruit orchards became housing developments. I began calling the Phoenix, Mesa, Glendale area East LA. Contrary to developers' opinions, all growth is not good. We need wild places for our mental health and we need local small farms for our physical health. Please, give city and county government representatives and local conservation groups the chance to save this property for our future.

Mary Robinson

I have witnessed development without concern for the character and health of a place, growing up in Southern California in the 50's and 60's. We came to Spokane 30 years ago, pulled by the established neighborhoods with parks and natural spaces abounding. What makes a difference in a community is its shared space and history, not the mansions of its occupants. Please preserve this historic and beautiful space.

Meredith McNally


Alexis Perry


Judy McMillan

Farmland is under increasing threat from development in Spokane County. Those of us who operate small family farms are pressured by development all around us. Trespass, complaints about ordinary farm practices, increased property values without any possibility of increased income from farming, more pressure from the county to justify open space/ag status. and on and on. There is a dangerous disconnect from where food comes from all around our nation.

Bobbie Riley

Developers don't have long term commitments to the areas they build on. Once the structures are built and they get paid they don't care what happens to it. Why would we trust their opinion on flood mitigation and land development? They wouldn't be the ones living in the flooded house they build. Protect this area from development and use it for growing nutritious local food for local residents of Spokane.

Travis Nichols


Friends of the Bluff

This land is a priceless jewel. It should be conserved.

Janet Brown

Spokane, WA

Walt Kloefkorn

You cannot say that you are working to create a more resilient, locally-based food system if you do not preserve the best land in proximity to population centers. We've been "developing" good farmland close to markets for far too long and must stop.

lois barnett

Port Townsend
Washington State needs all of the healthy farm land it can preserve! Healthy neighbors = healthy Life.

Debbie Stempf

Please don't lose this opportunity to save productive, local farmland within the city of Spokane. We need these local resources for food security in changing times.
Thank you for securing the Vinegar Flats Farmland forever.

Shari Cook


Jørgen Rasmussen

Otis Orchards
Keep current, Go Solar, Drive Electric.

Genny LaMorgan


Barb Brock

My old Iowa farmer dad believed in good "land" stewardship, always leaving a farm prettier than he found it. His best advice regarding natural places was to CHERISH IT because "They are NOT making any more land."

Jane Barry


Hilary Sepulveda


Elisheva Walters


Karina Dautenhahn


Deborah Di Bernardo

If we don't save this, if we keep developing each little piece - where the hell are we going to grow food? It can't all be about making money.

Bonnie Kerr


Pam Deutschman


Charlene Faoro


Cerena Mary Lauren

Spokane, WA
I live in Vinegar Flats and care deeply about the preservation of this beautiful farm land. Preserving this precious land is critical for so many reasons. Please consider the long term effects of this decision on our community.

Niesje Maccini


Anne Stephenson

Please preserve the farms and their families by preserving their land. They are and
will be working to help feed our families, preserve greatly needed open land and

Ms. Smith

We need to preserve our community's natural resources; Spokane is growing and it is time to stop the sprawl that has destroyed the North side of Spokane. I want to live in a community that has leaders whom are forward thinking and not reactionary to growth. Long term land conservation will only improve our city, not destroy it and turn it into more sub-divisions and strip malls. We don't need another Eagle Ridge destroying our precious open-spaces.

Kathryn Alexander

This farm land is a precious treasure that once gone is gone forever. It’s very existence feeds the heart and soul of our city and it will continue to do so. If it is covered in concrete, metal and glass it only supports those that live there. Please, keep our farmland healthy!

Laurie Fleming

During the growing season, I shop at the local farmers markets for the majority of my produce. I know I am buying quality and nutritious food, plus it helps support the local economy. This is a very important part of bringing better health to the people of Spokane and the surrounding areas. Local farms also bring together community; whereas big food production disconnects people, harms our environment, and provides poor outcomes in health.

Footehills Farm

I see good farmland disappearing daily! This piece within city limits can not only proved critical food but also teach future farmers. Don’t pass up this chance to save irreplaceable land like this!


Mead, WA
The one thing that really resonates with me is that once this farmland is gone and covered over with houses or any other non-food production usage, it's gone forever. We have very little non-big-agriculture food production near Spokane. Please help to preserve this small piece for the future food security of the area.

Kathleen Johnson Hart


Gail Felice

Spokane WA

Ashley Cavallaro

Spokane Valley

Elizabeth Smith

Thank you for considering.

Kerry Whitsitt

Small farmland is being gobbled up in every community in the country. We may realize too late, how these local farms are the backbone of an important part of our economy, building sustainability, providing fresh, local, organic produce and other products to our community and maintaining a livelihood for those who farm the land. Losing this vital land to a 94 unit development is short sighted and doesn't help or improve the neighborhood and it's residents.

Rachelle Flatt

Spokane Valley
We have many developments please save Vinegar Flatts

Pamala Martin

I have lived right next to The Little Spokane River in a rural area for 30 years and can't imagine if my little bit of heaven was annexed and turned into housing. Seeing undeveloped land and her nature is priceless!

Erin Mueller


Carla Jo


Jessica Schultz

The expansion of urban development into rural landscape is economically and environmentally irresponsible. As a graduate student, I have the unique opportunity to study the impact development of potential agriculture or conservation land has on the regional community, and all my research concludes the same way: housing expansion into fertile, farmable land results in food insecurities, environmental degradation resulting in negative economic impacts on regional and global communities, and local community disconnect from the land resulting in a sense of nonpossession and irresponsibility for the land, to name a few. As a researcher, I strongly encourage the development of the Deep Pine Overlook to be reconsidered and the land to instead be put towards land that will lead to a stronger community economically, environmentally, and socially.

Elizabeth Abbey


Nancy Nelson


Jasmine Kilpatrick


Diane Stutzman; Desert Jewels Nursery

Retaining prime farmland is essential to the Spokane area's food security.
We need to keep housing OUT of flood zones as well!

Christy Himmelright

I usually add thoughts that weren’t expressed in the main letter, but this one is a shining example of coherence and completeness. Please, I beg of you, LISTEN to all it has to say. We have never needed open land more than now.

Bob Lawrence


Linda N Reynolds


Stephanie Watson

Spokane, WA

Norman T. Baker, PhD


Louise Ratcliffe


Jesse Hansen


Donovan Arnold DeLeon


Emily Kanally

Spokane Valley

Ellen Weiser

Save the farmland. So much has been lost already. I remember the great carrots that used to be grown & now it’s a grocery store & a parking lot.

Ralph Tibbetts

Spokane Co.



Robin Kaswick

This is a very sensitive ecological area. Please protect instead of more growth

Footehills Farm


Anthony Solik


Louise Cavender


Grant Weber Vets on the Farm


Julie M Pomerantz


Elyse Hochstadt

It is imperative we maintain our open spaces and farmlands to retain the heart of Spokane. Local farming is an economic boon for our area, keeping our dollars in our communities and maintaining the knowledge of self-sufficiency. Further these lands are vital in the states published efforts to remain climate resilient. We know razing land for development undermines those goals and inevitably produces more greenhouse gasses through construction and increased miles driven by residents. Let's not look back in regret but be bold enough to envision a better future.