North Olympic Land Trust event raises $48K

Annual harvest dinner also honors ‘Farmland Preservation Champions’

Sequim Gazette staff

Fifteen Clallam County landowners were honored in front of a sold-out crowd of nearly 200 community leaders and fellow conservationists at North Olympic Land Trust’s 16th-annual Harvest Dinner on Sept. 12.

Hosted at the Sunland Golf & Country Club, the event not only raised glasses to conservation but plenty of funds as well. Tom Sanford, executive director of North Olympic Land Trust, said the event raised more than $48,000 for Land Trust endeavors.

Proceeds from the dinner will support efforts to conserve local farms and food and to preserve agricultural jobs in Clallam County.

“We are ecstatic with this statement of faith in the Land Trust’s efforts and we couldn’t have achieved this without the dedicated cadre of volunteers who help to make the Harvest Dinner a stellar event each year,” Sanford said. “I can’t thank them enough.”

This year, in recognition of 25 years of land conservation, the Land Trust chose to honor the local landowners that have agreed to permanently conserve their farmland, ensuring it always will be available for farming.

“Many of these individuals helped to usher in our founding organization and all of them are champions for the cause of conservation. Their conservation stories serve as an inspiration to the community,” Sanford said. “As individuals maintaining their livelihood through farming they truly understand that our community’s land base is the bedrock of our culture, our economy, our homes and our daily lives.”

Among those honored were Pat Willits and her late husband John Willits. They helped orchestrate an entire corridor of the farmland and wildlife conservation near the mouth of the Dungeness River. A short video was shared to honor John Willits’ passion and vision for conservation. (See that video online at

“As one of this organization’s most dedicated leaders and volunteers, John played a crucial role in our 25-year effort,” Sanford said. “From helping to create a conservation corridor across the county to protecting over 200 acres of his own land, John will remain a role model for generations to come.”

Dinner attendees were treated to a multi-course meal sourced from within 100 miles of Sequim and prepared by staff from Nourish.

North Olympic Land Trust members are looking toward their next venture: the Clallam County Farm Tour, set for Saturday, Oct. 3. A joint effort with WSU Clallam County Extension, the farm tour provides an opportunity for families and community members to get up close and personal with working farms in Clallam County. Seven farms will open their doors this year to the public.

A $10 ticket gets attendees into all seven farms for the day. The event features farm-fresh food, live music and plenty of family activities, Sanford said.

Learn more about North Olympic Land Trust and its activities at


About the Land Trust

The North Olympic Land Trust is dedicated to the conservation of open spaces, local food, local resources, healthy watersheds and recreational opportunities. Its long-term goal is to conserve lands that sustain the ecological and economic vitality of the communities of Clallam County.

Founded by community members in 1990, the Land Trust has conserved more than 3,000 acres of land across the North Olympic Peninsula working with willing landowners to conserve the area’s farms, fish and forests.