Store partners with Friends of the Fields

Sunny Farms Country Store's customers can ask their cashier to add a voluntary donation to Friends of the Fields to their purchase. The store at 261461 Highway 101, just east of Carlsborg Road, and Friends of the Fields invite shoppers to help protect farmland in Clallam County.

The donation program began Feb. 16. Any size donation amount is welcomed.

Patty McManus-Huber, chairwoman of the Fundraising Committee for Friends of the Fields says, "If every customer donated just 25 cents each time they shopped at Sunny Farms, in a year's time Friends of the Fields would have over $100,000 for saving local farmland!

"In this way, a family or individual can donate a little every time they shop or make a one-time large donation. It's simple and easy for the customer. All they have to do is tell the cashier."

Roger and Ellie Schmidt, owners and operators of Sunny Farms, want their customers to know that participation in the donation program is strictly voluntary.

"There is no obligation here, only opportunity," Roger Schmidt says. "Any donation is helpful - quarters add up to dollars and dollars from many sources add up to sizable contributions."

The funds raised by the partnership will go toward protecting farmland, including Friends of the Fields' current project Finn Hall Farm, 50 acres of prime agricultural land in Agnew.

Friends of the Fields has received a Washington state grant to fund one-half the cost of a permanent conservation easement on the farm and is applying for a federal grant to fund another quarter but must raise local matching funds.

The Sunny Farms Country Store program can help significantly with raising the $270,000 that remains.

"We feel that there is a great need to address the problem of diminishing farmland in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley," says Schmidt. "The situation has become critical. Housing demands have accelerated land values beyond the ability for agricultural ventures to compete."

Since 1950, Clallam County has lost more than 75 percent of its farmland, at an average annual rate of 1,100 acres per year.

Most farmers lease the majority of the land they farm and as residential development spreads, they find it harder and harder to find agricultural acreage to keep producing farm products, including fresh local food.

"We are very grateful to Roger and Ellie for their generosity to Friends of the Fields, not only for this partnership but also their personal donation that made our Harvest Dinner such a success," says McManus-Huber.

The Schmidts contributed $10,000 as a challenge for participants to match at the dinner held Oct. 5, 2008. The challenge helped raise more than $60,000 for farmland protection.

Donations to Friends of the Fields, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. Donations made at Sunny Farms Country Store will be indicated on the customer's receipt.

For more information about the Finn Hall Farm campaign and farmland protection in Clallam County, go to www.

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