Saving a Farming Tradition
Land Trust acquires land, now seeks interested buyer
Robert Youderian spent his teenage years bucking hay bales on Central Whidbey farms. He developed that and other farming skills at home on his family farm across the highway from the Navy’s Outlying Field.
“You could say anything you wanted to say in this house except ‘I’m bored,’” Youderian said with a laugh. “We raised between 70 and 80 head of cattle here when I was growing up.” These days you might recognize the family’s signs advertising fresh rhubarb and other veggies.
Youderian, now retired, is glad to see that a parcel of his late parents’ farmland that had recently gone up for sale will permanently remain in agriculture. Thanks to the support of Land Trust members, we acquired the 22-acre property with high-quality agricultural soils to keep the land in farming and preserve the rural scenery enjoyed along an adjacent stretch of highway.
The property, located near the southern entrance to Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, had been in the Youderian family for generations.
“It’s good farmland,” Youderian said. “They’ve had cabbage and beets out there and done fine with them. We’ve used it for grain but it’s useable for more than that.”
One of the Land Trust’s top priorities is permanently protecting farmland on Whidbey and Camano islands. This ensures that future farmers can continue to provide island communities with safe, abundant, and nutritious, locally grown food. Protecting farmland also preserves scenic views, wildlife habitat, and a way of life.
Thanks to Land Trust members, the land was saved from being subdivided into two homesites. Now the Land Trust is looking for a buyer to continue farming the land. It’s all part of a Buy-Protect-Sell strategy that land trusts use to take a property off the market quickly and permanently protect with a conservation easement that removes development potential. With the development rights gone, a farmer can then buy the land at an affordable price. A conservation easement is a legal agreement that stays with the land regardless of who owns it.
“It’s important to keep our open space and to keep local food production,” said Judy Lynn, who owns a small farm next to Penn Cove, also protected by the Land Trust. “That’s really important. Now more than ever.”
The Land Trust has now protected more than 1,200 acres of farmland on the islands.
In the future, a new crop will be growing in the field located right alongside the highway. When that happens, it should make Land Trust members smile. They made that possible!