Opinion: Protecting the Peninsula – What is their real purpose?

Orchard Sprayer on Johnson Farms | Jane BoursawPhoto

(OMP farmer Jed Hemming suggests that the real purpose of Protect the Peninsula is to remove agricultural activity, which will ultimately result in the removal of the Old Mission Peninsula’s agricultural landscape. Read on… jb )

How often has a Protect the Peninsula (PTP) mailing been sent to our community for a call to action? How can you refuse? “Protecting the peninsula” is important. The name, after all, infers a good cause. (I personally believe they mislabel their mailing list as “membership”.)

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I have often heard the “president” of PTP claim to support the agricultural community in many ways and for many years, including contributions on zoning regulations and the Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program.

I very strongly disagree.

As a long-time resident and second-generation farmer, I will say unequivocally that “PTP’s goal is and has been to regulate agriculture”. I challenge anyone to open a fruit processing plant today. Restrictions on warehouse capacity, local sales and views, not to mention noise, odors and traffic impacts on adjacent roads and neighborhoods, would make the process virtually impossible.

Isn’t a winery, in fact, a fruit processing factory? Imagine someone offering a Kroupa’s Inc. today? Never happens. Today, 75% of the cherries grown on the peninsula are shipped through a single facility. If for some reason this facility were to close, would it be possible to open another one?

It is important to note here that the farming process generates all the same nuisances as the PDR program, which has been strongly supported by PTP. The PDR program was and is presented as an opportunity to save agricultural land from residential development. In effect, it is a process of further restricting the use of zoned agricultural land beyond what can be done through zoning.

Granted, the PDR program is voluntary and residential development fees are paid with real dollars. It’s not the validity of the program I’m talking about – that’s the real goal. The size and location of pole barns, cooling facilities and labor accommodations are, in some cases, dictated by the PDR easement, as they impact residential neighbors and views.

Will opening hours be regulated due to noise? It is much more than limiting residential development. You could say he encourages it.

I propose that PTP is, in fact, in favor of an agricultural landscape, and NOT the business of agriculture.

What will happen to all the land “saved” by the PDR program if agribusiness is no longer viable? Abandoned orchards and vineyards and another trial?

I often hear about the magnificent orchards and vineyards of the Peninsula. What a beautiful place to live. I suggest that if you remove the agricultural activity you will lose the landscape.

–Jed Hemming

Editor’s note: A bit of history… Kroupa’s, Inc., which Jed mentions above, was located on Center Road, north of the Peninsula Cellars tasting room. After many years of sitting vacant with only the office and storage facility, this plot is now in the process of being cleared. I heard that a horse farm might be set up there, but I’ll find out more info and report back. Below is a Record-Eagle advertisement from July 7, 1976, which notes that local cherry processors welcome visitors to the 1976 National Cherry Festival. Three of the processors were located on the Old Mission Peninsula – Gleason & Co (on Center Road, just south of the Old Mission Tavern); Krupa’s, Inc.; and Peninsula Fruit Exchange (at the corner of Peninsula Drive and Kroupa Road). Only the Peninsula Fruit Exchange (PFE) remains; it was purchased by Seneca Fruit in recent years. Also in the ad, note that the National Cherry Queen was OMP resident Carol Grishaw. -jb)

Record-Eagle ad;  cherry processors;  July 7, 1976 |  Journals.com
Record-Eagle ad; cherry processors; July 7, 1976 | Journals.com

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