Alaska Farmland Trust works to preserve Moffitt farm in Palmer
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - More housing developments are popping up around Palmer as more people move to the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.
Some neighborhoods are built on land that’s historically been used for farming.
The non-profit organization Alaska Farmland Trust is working to preserve parcels so the land can stay in agriculture.
One of their current projects is the Moffitt farm.
Tracy Moffitt has made his living raising beef cattle on a scenic piece of property north of Palmer.
“You have to love it because it’s not the greatest moneymaker," Moffitt said. “So you certainly have to enjoy it.”
His farm sits on land that was an original plot for a Matanuska Colony family in the 1930s.
“My dad started farming here in December 1945 on 40 acres, over there where the colony barn is,” he said.
What started as a dairy farm, is now a venture into raising beef and pork for the 49th State Brewing Company and growing hay to feed the animals.
Moffitt said his family had nearly 1,000 acres at one point but are now down to about 400.
“The property has been sold off to help pay for farming and retirement and everything for my parents,” he said.
The Alaska Farmland Trust wants to help preserve a 95-acre parcel from future development.
“That’s one of our slogans is: you can’t eat a subdivision. And we’re not against development or growth or people living in the valley for certain,” said board member Erin Kittredge. “But you don’t want to use farmland that’s so important to build houses. There are other places to build houses.”
A private donor is putting up $80,000 if the nonprofit can match $50,000 of that.
The funds ensure the land will always be used for farming.
“We purchase the development rights. And the way that works is we put a conservation easement on the farm and it just says that this farm must be used for agriculture in perpetuity,” board president Leslie Senden explained. “So the farmer still owns the land, they still live on the land, they can sell the land It’s just that that value is reduced.”
Since 2005, Alaska Farmland Trust has preserved 318 acres on six farms.
For Moffitt, working with Alaska Farmland Trust means the rich soils on his land will remain intact. There’s also an element of food security a farm like his provides with local meat.
Palmer was founded as a farming community nearly a century ago. Making a portion of the Moffitt’s property farmland forever means families can continue working the land for another century to come.
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