Working with the Mason County community to foster profitable family farms, land and water stewardship, and access to healthy food.
Mason County is full of unique natural resources. It is one of the most productive shellfish areas in North America, has two different Native American tribal fisheries, a history of family farming, is famous for its Christmas Trees, and is home to the bays and inlets of the Puget Sound and Hood Canal and the peaks of the Olympic Mountains. At the same time, the population growth rate is one of the highest in the state, and there is ever-increasing pressure being put on these finite resources.
As part of the WSU Small Farms Team, the program strives to:
- Build public support for agriculture
- Help farmers adopt practices that are sustainable-economically, socially and environmentally
- Unify farmers and consumers in developing local markets and community food access
- Preserve Washington farmland for food and fiber production
The Mason County Small Farms Program is designed to provide technical assistance, educational opportunities, economic opportunities, and a direct link to state and federal resources available to family farmers. Because of the unique partnership with the WSU Mason County Extension and the Mason Conservation District, the staff is able to provide the following:
- Conservation Plans (a.k.a. Farm Plans) to help landowners inventory the resources on their property (soil, water, livestock, crops, etc.), identify the objectives of their farm, and create a dynamic plan that reflects those objectives while protecting the quality of the natural resources.
- Cost-share agreements that can pay for 50 – 75% of some approved Best Management Practices (i.e. waste storage structures, riparian fencing, cross fencing, composting facilities, gutters and downspouts, livestock heavy-use areas, and many more).
- Educational opportunities – workshops, conferences, continuing education classes, field trips, on-farm research, etc.
- Access to the vast resources of the Washington State University’s Small Farms Team.
- Access to USDA cost-share programs like CREP, EQIP, CSP, WRP, and others.
- Connecting the community with local agriculture and building support through projects like the Mason County Farm Map, Harvest Celebration Farm Tours, the Food & Farm Network, educational displays at local events, and much more.