Partnership preserves historic Pierce County farm

Pierce County officials announced Tuesday they have teamed up with PCC Farmland Trust to purchase the 120-acre Reise Farm in the Puyallup River Valley.

The purchase is the first under the county’s “Transfer of Development Rights” program, which means the development rights from the Reise Farm will be used in Tacoma and other urban areas, thus saving this farm in perpetuity. The county and PCC Farmland Trust partnered to purchase the farm, which includes 80 tillable acres and 40 acres of woods and creek.

According to PCC Farmland Trust’s Web site, the farm dates back to 1903, when Otto Reise Sr. moved his dairy cattle and hops business from Whatcom County to the Puyallup Valley. In the late 1920s, Otto sold his dairy cattle and planted 20 acres of berries, and expanded his business to include certified seed potatoes. In 1927, the Reise Farm was one of the first in the valley to purchase bulbs from Holland, and by 1935 the entire farm was devoted to bulbs and tulips. By the mid-1950s, the current property was part of a larger 200 acre operation, which again included dairy cattle, as well as bulbs, silage, hay, and grain production. Wilmer Reise eventually took over the family farm business, producing Christmas trees and bulbs for many years. In the early 1990s, Wilmer began leasing the farm to a local farming family, who have been producing corn, pumpkins, beans, and blueberries on the property since.

Officials plan to celebrate the purchase and partnership with an event on Thurs., Oct. 18 at 12 p.m. that will include Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, PCC Farmland Trust Executive Director Rebecca Sadinsky, and a representative of the Reise Family. The event will include light food and beverages, as well as a walking tour of the property’s 70-year-old blueberry orchard, future restoration area, and farm fields. The historic Reise Farm is located at the intersection of Military Road and State Highway 162, between the cities of Puyallup and Orting.