Search This Blog

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Keep Your Eye on the Pie…

Pictorial programs“…and pies by the half-dozen: rhubarb in spring; apple much of the year; pumpkin and mince; strawberry briefly and blueberry always (from canning); pies on the table three times a day.”

                                                                  Life Work

               Donald Hall

When New Year’s rolled around last year, I resolved NOT to resolve (12/31/2012), the rationale being if one has a goal, it doesn’t matter what day of the year he sets out to achieve it; start whenever…results are what matter. But this New Year I solemnly resolve to take advantage of any slice of free pie that comes my way.

That opportunity happened last month. December 12th, as a matter of fact, when The Ripple attended the pie social hosted by The Snohomish Conservation District at the Tualco Grange. The evening was to be a sociable one, locals chatting about their property concerns over pie.

The evening began with great promise. As I walked in the door of the auditorium, the first things that caught my eye were a coffee urn and an assortment of pies, many I noticed with some anxiety were already missing a slice or two. As I jockeyed for position in the pie line, Brett de Vries walked up, greeted me with a smile,  a handshake, and thanked me for coming, then introduced me as “…he writes for the Nexus” to a young lady serving up pie. “You can have my piece,” Brett offered (generosity had something to do with pie crust and glutens, I gathered). Apple pie. Rhubarb pie. Marionberry pie. It’s not often I have a chance at marionberry, so I pointed my paper plate in that direction (besides, I had that second slice in reserve, didn’t I?).

Cup of coffee in one hand, plate of pie in the other, I looked over the society gathered there in the presence of pie and noticed a few familiar faces: Dale Reiner, Andy Werkhoven, Gramma Snow and Sandy Frohning were those I knew. A few others I had seen somewhere before but could not recall their names. I was halfway into my pie when one of the hosts called us to attention and requested we take a seat. I chose one between Andy and Dale, thinking I’d get a story from their bantering back and forth. That was not to happen. The lady took up a position before the rows of chairs and introduced herself. “Ah, ha,” I thought, noticing an intimidating projection screen, “looks like my pie won’t exactly be free, thinking about those mailers I receive periodically, the ones where you and a companion are baited with a gourmet meal AFTER you listen to a sales pitch, of course. After we socialites settled down, the presenter thanked us for coming and explained the purpose of the evening. “I thought it was about pie,” one fellow blurted, prompting a ripple a laughter from the audience.discussion group one

In all fairness to the Conservation District, their presentation was not pie enticed extortion but a public service function: how the property owners in attendance could take advantage of government programs set up to protect and preserve their farmland and at the same time be paid to participate. The presentation’s focus was on the Tualco Valley because of its flood plain status. Organizations like the American Farmland Trust work with farmers and developers to mitigate the effects of development on farmland in the Pacific Northwest. AFT’s goal is “a no-net-loss of farmland in Washington.” Other programs featured, along with their guidelines and funding rates were: Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and Snohomish Conservation District (SCD: participates in fully funded grant projects). The CREP program requires enrollees to sign a ten-fifteen year contract for which they will receive a $100/acre signing bonus, $200/450 per acre annual rental payment, and 100% funding for fencing, plantings, and funds to maintain a thirty-five foot buffer zone along watercourses.

A seasoned veteran of the government vs. the landowner wars (“I’m eighty-seven years old and have seen it all”), an old logger of the whistle punk/choker setting generation raised the question of funding, wondered if the government was paying landowners for the buffer zone acreage and whether it could come up with the money for remuneration. In deference to age, wisdom and experience, the presenter allowed the old logger to share a personal run-in with government regulations. On a piece of timbered property there was a quantity of blow-down timber he wanted to harvest, he said. The old gentleman contacted the DNR, (I believe that’s the agency), told them what he wanted to do and that he could access the timber by using an old logging road. Not until he upgraded the road, the DNR told him. $70,000 later after he had installed the “required” culverts (did he say “fifty?”), he was finally able to access his timber legally…testimony to the stringent regulations now in place to “protect” the environment.

After thanking the old sage for sharing, the presenter tactfully addressed Dale Reiner. “You’ve participated in the CREPS program, haven’t you, Dale?” Dale testified he had and that he wholeheartedly approved of it. “It’s nice to get that check at the end of the year,” Dale remarked. “You can use it to buy that new piece of farm machinery you need.” At this point I became the middleman buffer as Andy chuckled and leaned in to say: “I wish I had a nickel for every plastic sleeve (protective collars for young buffer zone plantings washed away by river flooding) I’ve run across.”Group 2

On to the next stage of the agenda—group discussion. We counted off by threes to form three groups, each with its own facilitator. Because I sat between Andy and Dale (a “one” and a “three”), I took my place with the number two group. Our facilitator kept the group on task, moved us through the group agenda while allowing members the chance to share personal experiences and property issues along the way (one member was concerned about flood mitigation; part of his property is now an island in the Sky River). Gramma Snow’s issue was Riley Slough, a watercourse that flowed through her property. “My kids and grandkids used to catch fish in the slough,” she stated. Now, she complained, Riley was merely a trickle on her property. Gramma wondered if the slough could be dredged and scoured out to allow water flow again. “Just wait a few months,” I laughed, “Beavers are working hard downstream. Before you know it, you’ll have ponds full of fish. Besides, Gramma, if you ask for government assistance, are you prepared to foot the bill for all those culverts?"Andy and Sandy 

(My slice of marionberry pie, by the way? I asked the young server if it came from her kitchen. “From Haggens,”she smiled, leaving me to suspect this was the first time ever store bought pie was served at the Tualco Grange.)

Print this post

No comments:

Post a Comment