A new era for Friends of the Field
By Diane Urbani de la Paz, for the Horvitz Newspapers, Inc.
September 3, 2006
SEQUIM -- As farmers sweat through this harvest season, some of their friends are sighing over their word processors. And dreaming about future meals.
Friends of the Fields, a seven-year-old organization that aims to keep farms producing in Clallam County, recently sent two representatives to Olympia to seek a $350,000 grant from the Interagency Committee on Outdoor Recreation.
The funds would help Friends preserve 24 acres of fertile ground near Dungeness Bay.
This week Jim Aldrich of Sequim, Friends' new president, received word that the Interagency Committee had ranked the application No. 1 among the field of applicants.
Another application for money to preserve a parcel of farmland in Sequim received a No. 8 ranking among 10 applicants, Aldrich said.
The grant requests will go to Gov. Christine Gregoire next, and Friends will receive word of approval or denial next spring.
Meantime, Friends is starting a fund-raising campaign to raise the required $350,000 in matching funds.
And the group has hired its first paid consultant: Blue Heron Business Services marketing specialist and garlic grower Blythe Barbo.
Barbo will seek other grants for Friends, and has already applied for a $35,000 award from the national organization Farm Aid.
Barbo picks up speed and intensity as she speaks about the "buy local'' campaign she's planning.
"It would start with a free magazine, with articles about local farmers,'' and information about where to purchase their produce.
Fliers and brochures would appear around the county, and restaurants and stores stocking locally grown food would put up stickers or signs.
A cookbook or a calendar -- with art by local photographers or watercolorists -- are also on her campaign agenda.