News From Your Friends

Cultivating prosperity: the call for code changes to support Clark County’s small farms

December 28, 2023 in Farmland & Forests, Position Statements & Policy Recommendations

Our guest article comes from Mark Lopez of Gather and Feast Farm in La Center, WA. Mark is a farmer, caterer, and an advocate for agriculture in Clark County. 

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As a small farmer in Clark County, I write to you today not just as a cultivator of the land, but as a member of this vibrant community we all cherish. Our discussion centers around an issue close to my heart: the slow progress of the county in amending codes to allow weddings and events on farms. Currently, the county code only allows wineries to host weddings and events, while farmers don’t get to benefit from this potentially lucrative business model. This matter goes beyond just permitting; it’s about supporting the backbone of our local economy and preserving the rural charm that defines our county.

The Importance of Small Farms in Our Community

In Clark County, small farms are not just businesses; they are the lifeblood of our community. They provide fresh, locally-grown produce, create jobs, and maintain the scenic landscapes we all love. These farms, however, face significant financial challenges. Diversifying income through hosting weddings is not just a luxury; it’s a necessity for survival.

Currently, the bureaucratic inertia in updating the county codes to allow farmers to host weddings is not just stalling progress; it’s threatening the very existence of these small farms. While wineries enjoy fast-track permitting for weddings, small farms are left navigating a complex and slow process. This disparity is not just unfair; it undermines the spirit of equal opportunity enshrined in our US Constitution.

Weddings and Agritourism: A Symbiotic Relationship

Weddings on farms are not just events; they are a celebration of our agricultural heritage. They align perfectly with the county’s farm stand rule 40.260.025, which supports agricultural stands and markets. These events are a form of agritourism that brings the community closer to its roots, educates about sustainable farming, and fosters a deeper appreciation for local produce.

Moreover, weddings on farms have proven to be a boon for the local economy. For every farm wedding, a cascade of economic activity follows: local florists, caterers, musicians, and various service providers benefit. This ripple effect can’t be ignored. It’s a testament to how interconnected our community is and how supporting one aspect, like small farms, uplifts the entire area.

A Plea for Fast-Track Solutions and Fairness

The need for a fast-track solution for permitting weddings on farms is dire. Every delayed decision is a missed opportunity for a farmer struggling to keep their land productive and profitable. The current system, which seems to favor wineries, goes against the principles of fairness and equity. It’s crucial that our county leaders recognize this disparity and act swiftly to level the playing field.

As a small farmer, I urge the community members and fellow farmers to engage proactively with the county on these issues. It’s time to move beyond just discussions and take concrete steps towards change. We must advocate for a revised code that recognizes the importance of small farms and their multifaceted business models.

Heartfelt Reasons for Community Support

To those in opposition, I extend a heartfelt invitation to see firsthand the magic of a farm wedding and the positive impact it has on the community. It’s not just about revenue; it’s about celebrating our community’s agricultural heritage, supporting local businesses, and creating memorable experiences for residents and visitors alike.

Our farms are more than just land and crops; they are a legacy we wish to preserve for future generations. Supporting this code change is not just about allowing weddings; it’s about ensuring the sustainability and prosperity of our small farms and, by extension, our community.

In conclusion, as we stand at this crossroads, let us choose the path that supports our small farmers, bolsters our local economy, and preserves the charm and character of Clark County. Together, let’s advocate for a change that will bring growth, fairness, and prosperity to our community.

I encourage you to “Contact Your Councilor” at:

I submitted the following statement:

Clark County’s small farms, vital to our community, face financial challenges. Updating county codes to permit farm weddings is crucial for their survival and economic contribution. Current delays and bias towards wineries are unfair. We need fast-track solutions and a revised code supporting diverse farm business models. Weddings on farms embody a celebration of our agricultural heritage and align with the county’s support for agricultural stands and markets, under rule 40.260.025. Thank you.


Mark Lopez

A Concerned Small Farmer of Clark County

A family and their dog with water and trees in the background

A photo of Mark and his lovely family enjoying the outdoors.

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