Land as a living legacy
Sound Consumer | July 2010
by Kelly Sanderbeck,Communications & Development Director
Ruth Afflack was a donor to PCC Farmland Trust since our start in 1999. We didn’t know her personally but the trust obviously left an impression, as we recently were named in her will to receive a 10-acre property in Fall City.
Ruth was a woman ahead of her time in more ways than one: she was an associate professor of mathematics at California State University (Long Beach) from 1966 to 1992 and wrote the book “Beyond Equals: To encourage the participation of women in mathematics.” She moved to the Fall City area after she retired.
With no directive for how the property is to be used, we did our due diligence to see if it fit our mission of preserving land viable for commercial farming. We did a Phase I Environmental Assessment, a visual soil analysis, and walked the property with folks from the King Conservation District. We also found that eight of the 10 acres are a Class 2 wetlands, according to county records.
Since it didn’t fit our criteria for farmland preservation, we’re in the process of doing the next best thing: selling it to a neighbor who is committed to preserving the original 1900 homestead farmhouse and pristine vista, protecting the wetland to encourage salmon spawning, and continuing to farm the two tillable acres.
The new owners, Marilee and Nile Clarke, are about to retire. They moved to their five-acre adjacent parcel in 2009 and currently have a 1,500-square foot organic garden, an orchard, bees and chickens.
They are bursting with ideas for the new property: to rent the house for “agritourism” retreats, to cross-pollinate with trust volunteers and other organizations on work parties and educational opportunities, and to rent the two farmable acres to an interested party.
In Ruth’s honor, the trust will use proceeds from the sale to establish the Ruth Afflack Stewardship Fund where all monies raised will be restricted to stewardship, the Trust’s “forever” part of our mission. Our goal is to secure $200,000 to support the stewardship program over the next three years, strengthening our ability to care for these properties in perpetuity.
As one of the first members of our Agrarian Circle legacy giving, Ruth Afflack’s gift of land is one that keeps on living through the work of PCC Farmland Trust.