In Memoriam: Remembering Bob Hart — 11/12/2012
Skagit Valley lost a passionate voice for preserving Skagit farmland with the passing of fourth generation Skagitonian Bob Hart on Sunday, November 4, 2012.
Bob served as President of the SPF Board of Directors for the past four years. He joined the SPF Board in 2004, was elected Vice President in 2005 and President in January 2009. He had also served as Chair of SPF's Land Protection Committee.
As a member of the Skagit County Board of Commissioners, Bob supported the passage of the Conservation Futures Fund ordinance on December 2, 1996, which was created to acquire development rights on agricultural lands as a means of preserving and protecting those lands from conversion to non-agricultural uses. A property tax levy on all taxable property within the county funds the program, known as the Skagit County Farmland Legacy Program (FLP). The FLP leverages funding with state and federal grants and private donations. Skagit County has protected almost 10,000 acres of farmland; since 2008 SPF has partnered with the program by raising private contributions to secure development rights on more than 360 acres along the I-5 corridor, south of Mount Vernon.
In 2007 Bob was appointed by Gov. Christine Gregoire to Washington state's Farmland Preservation Task Force. Bob chaired the 18-member task force, which was formed to provide the first statewide policy guidance for the Office of Farmland Preservation, created by the legislature.
For the past seven summers, Bob and his wife Margie have invited students and chef instructors from the Seattle Culinary Academy to their farm, La Conner Flats, to farm on land set aside for them to learn best practices for sowing, cultivating and harvesting vegetables and fruit. They take the produce back to their kitchens in Seattle to create local, seasonal meals. Students have worked under the direction of retired scientists, farmers and teachers, recruited by Bob, to teach students about different plant varieties as well as agricultural practices used for growing vegetables in the Valley's maritime climate.
Bob's legacy of service and his commitment to preserving Skagit Valley farmland for future generations will be remembered always. He was an inspiration and a friend to many, and he will be greatly missed.
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