Presentation Abstract

The Farming in the Floodplain Project (FFP) is an effort to engage farmers in the Clear Creek area, just east of Tacoma, in the planning and design of a multiple-benefit floodplain reconnection project. The foundation of the FFP is to understand and document technical information on the needs of the agricultural community in the area so that those needs can be incorporated into the project. Environmental Science Associates (ESA) conducted technical work on the FFP on behalf of PCC Farmland Trust. Over the course of the FFP, we learned to let the viewpoints of farmers guide how we conducted our work. At the outset, we hoped to establish quantified thresholds for actions that would impact agriculture. At our first advisory group meeting, a farmer told us that this approach wouldn’t work for farming because each farm is different, with different topography, crops, and techniques. Instead, farming is about risk. Farmers constantly deal with risks, including weather, flooding, and market conditions. Farmers individually determine what an acceptable level of risk is and adjust their farming practices accordingly. Instead of following our original framework, we shifted our thinking to discussing conditions and potential actions that would either increase or decrease risk to agricultural viability. In addition to listening carefully to farmers’ concerns and letting them guide our technical work, we used a variety of strategies, including broadening the focus of the discussion to agricultural viability in general (as opposed to limiting the discussions and research to the proposed project), documenting farmers concerns in our technical documents, and facilitating an advisory group that mixed technical experts with farmers. While the project is still ongoing, it has been successful in bringing farmers into the conversation and producing information that will be considered in project design.

Session Title

Understanding What Matters to Agricultural Poducers

Keywords

Agriculture, Floodplain management, Outreach, Drainage

Conference Track

SSE2: Collaboration and Engagement

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE2-204

Start Date

5-4-2018 2:45 PM

End Date

5-4-2018 3:00 PM

Type of Presentation

Oral

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Apr 5th, 2:45 PM Apr 5th, 3:00 PM

Listening to farmers: the farming in the floodplain project

The Farming in the Floodplain Project (FFP) is an effort to engage farmers in the Clear Creek area, just east of Tacoma, in the planning and design of a multiple-benefit floodplain reconnection project. The foundation of the FFP is to understand and document technical information on the needs of the agricultural community in the area so that those needs can be incorporated into the project. Environmental Science Associates (ESA) conducted technical work on the FFP on behalf of PCC Farmland Trust. Over the course of the FFP, we learned to let the viewpoints of farmers guide how we conducted our work. At the outset, we hoped to establish quantified thresholds for actions that would impact agriculture. At our first advisory group meeting, a farmer told us that this approach wouldn’t work for farming because each farm is different, with different topography, crops, and techniques. Instead, farming is about risk. Farmers constantly deal with risks, including weather, flooding, and market conditions. Farmers individually determine what an acceptable level of risk is and adjust their farming practices accordingly. Instead of following our original framework, we shifted our thinking to discussing conditions and potential actions that would either increase or decrease risk to agricultural viability. In addition to listening carefully to farmers’ concerns and letting them guide our technical work, we used a variety of strategies, including broadening the focus of the discussion to agricultural viability in general (as opposed to limiting the discussions and research to the proposed project), documenting farmers concerns in our technical documents, and facilitating an advisory group that mixed technical experts with farmers. While the project is still ongoing, it has been successful in bringing farmers into the conversation and producing information that will be considered in project design.