Many of you have no doubt seen the signs at Morales Farm and Johnson Farm that shout out in barnyard red, “Public Farmland.” The City of Bainbridge Island owns approximately 60 acres of “public farmland.” The City had the foresight in years past to purchase this land. Some was donated. We are fortunate we have publicly-owned farmland because it can provide healthy, local food for our families, right here on the island, for years to come. And publicly-owned farmland means that farming can be a viable livelihood for present and future island farmers.
Friends of the Farms is currently the City’s farmland manager. We steward City-owned agricultural lands through a five-year contract. Our management responsibilities vary among five public farmland properties: Johnson Farm, M+E Property, Crawford Property, Morales Farm and Suyematsu-Bentryn Farm at Day Road.
Three of these properties – Johnson, Morales and Suyematsu-Bentryn Farms, are currently farmed, collectively and collaboratively, by a group of farmers that not only respect the culture of the place but, cultivate the farmers of the future.
Farmers utilizing public farmland often dedicate countless hours to a variety of community efforts including youth education, farmland improvement projects, mentoring apprentice farmers and participation in monthly work parties and farm walks.
These farmers do this because they believe in the value that this land and its produce brings to our community.
So, where is the “public” in public farmland? Well, here’s the short list:
- agricultural land preserved in our community
- youth educational programs
- mentoring of would-be farmers
- public greenhouse
- farm tours
- walking trails on farmland
- community gardens at Johnson Farm
- Harvest Fair
We are lucky to live in a community that values its agricultural land.