Protecting King County Farms

March 20, 2023

Since 2019, Futurewise has been working with our local partners, Friends of Sammamish Valley on the King County Wineries, Breweries and Distilleries Ordinance.

Originally adopted by the King County Council in January 2020, the ordinance was appealed by Futurewise and FoSV on the grounds of failing to protect King County farmers from speculations and overdevelopment. Since 2020, our case has been working its way through the courts, with an early win before the Growth Management Hearings Board, and a later ruling by the Court of Appeals overturning our win.

Now Futurewise and FoSV are taking the fight to the Washington Supreme Court. You can read our press release about why we're appealing here.

In order to help our supporters understand the impacts of this, we talked to a local King County farmer. Andrew Ely is owner/operator of Eunomia Farms in the Sammamish Valley. He is also a educator on food, farming and healthy ecosystems. Andrew serves on the FoSV board of directors, on the KC Ag Commission and is an active participant in farming-related legislation in Olympia and elsewhere.

Andrew Ely, owner/operator of Eunomia Farms

Tell us a little about your farm! How long have you or your family been farming in the Sammamish Valley? What do you grow?

I operate a high intensity 1 acre market farm. I sell to childcare centers, restaurants and at farmers markets. I also run a seasonal CSA. While I specialize in roots, greens, peas and tomatoes, I also raise poultry.

What's your favorite part of being a farmer?

My favorite part of being a farmer is knowing that the land I steward and care for provides food for all. I am rewarded by the support from the farmer markets, and really take pride in developing relationships with my customers.

What are some of the more challenging aspects? How has pressure from new development (including wineries and breweries) impacted your farm? Why in your opinion is it important to protect small farmers?

Development pressure makes the outlook of farming seem impossible.

Land prices are being driven up by speculative developers attempting to convert farmland and rural lands to commercial uses.

Large amounts of water, washed from roadways and developed areas surrounding farmable lands, supersaturates the soil. This leads to soil loss by erosion, unfavorable growing conditions, and farmland contamination from toxins washed downslope. Large volumes of toxic runoff also detrimentally impacts watershed health and salmon habitat. The citizens of King County depend these watersheds for drinking water. I'm thinking of the Cedar River and Tolt River as our primary municipal water sources.

Protecting all farmable land preserves the future of farming, ecosystem health, and food access. This includes rural lands, where 40% of farming in King County occurs. Many farms are operated by non-male and BIPOC communities. These populations have faced, and continue to face, institutional racism and marginalization which further exacerbates disparities in our community. The pressure non-male and BIPOC farmers are facing with development impacts these communities, too. If land is affordable and farmable, all farmers will be here for the long term to support your community with wholesome food and ecosystem stewardship. If our farm ecosystem is paved over or sprinkled with commercial development we will be put out of business.

Who are some of your other favorite farmers in the Sammamish Valley, or elsewhere in Washington? What's your favorite local food grown in Washington, either by you, or by others?

Sweet Hollow Farm, Bumblebee Farm, Songbirdhaven Farm, and Sariwa Farm are my favorite hyperlocal farms. Honestly, there are so many noteworthy farms. We are all of them are at risk from development pressure. Each of these farms specializes in local food access and provide culturally significant and delicious foods. The seasonal rainbow I experience with my farmer friends really is my food joy; I would never pick one. It's the diversity of foods and cultures that makes the Puget Sound such an magical place to live in. Us farmers are a paramount part of this shared experience.

Thank you Andrew for sharing with us! And keep an eye out for more updates regarding our King County Adult Beverage Ordinance appeal.