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Clark County: Where the city meets the farm

The fast-paced city grind is being left behind by many Clark County residents for a life of small-acreage farming.

Thanks to the award-winning “Living on the Land” program at Washington State University Clark County Extension, many ex-city slickers from the Portland, Ore.-Vancouver, Wash., area are learning to make the most of their new property.

Douglas Stienbarger, extension director and program co-creator, said the curriculum was developed because of the rapid urbanization and land fragmentation that is occurring in the area.

Stienbarger said his students have varied reasons for moving out to a rural community and taking the class. “Some students have always wanted to have a horse, others want to try their hand at small-acreage farming, while a few just enjoy country living,” he said.

“Many people who are moving onto rural land have never had to manage acreage before,” Stienbarger said. “Therefore, they are not aware of what their land requires.”

The class teaches small-acreage landowners how to maintain and utilize their wells, animals, pastures and more.

“Many do not even realize they are living on a septic system and do not understand the implications,” Stienbarger said. “We teach them how to properly maintain their septic system.”

The program has been held twice since its inception at WSU Clark County two years ago. About 40 students attended each class and there were waiting lists of several others. Classes are held one evening a week for 12 weeks. They are free to the public.

Other WSU Clark County Extension programs include:

* A watershed stewardship program.
* 4-H
* Food safety and nutrition, which includes Food Sense, a program for low income consumers.
* Master Gardeners.

For more information on WSU Clark County Extension, call (360) 397-6060, ext. 0, or visit

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