Bob’s Corn’s future as a farm assured permanently

Sarah and Bob Ricci, owners of Bob’s Corn near Snoho-mish now have a conservation easement on their 207-acre farm to ensure the land will always be used for farming.

SNOHOMISH —  As the Ricci family prepares for the harvest and designing their popular corn maze at Bob’s Corn and Pumpkin Farm, they have the comfort of knowing their farm will remain in agriculture.
Bob and Sarah Ricci worked with the Washington Farmland Trust to place a conservation easement on their more than 200-acre farm nestled near the Snohomish River off Highway 9.
“We want this to be a farm for forever,” Sarah Ricci said. The family has owned the farm since 1888. Bob and Sarah are fourth generation of the family to farm on the land. Four of their five daughters work on the farm.
The easement places restrictions on the property that will allow agriculture activities to continue.
Robin Fay, conservation director for the Washington Farmland Trust, explained: “We’re essentially buying the developing rights. They’re essentially extinguished.”
The state Department of Ecology, the county and the state Recreation and Conservation Office provided grant money to pay for the $1.4 million easement, said Molly Goren, the Farmland Trust’s communications director.
Easements allow a farm owner to convey certain rights of the property without selling it, Fay said. It also allows a farmer, who has so much of their savings and equity tied into the land, realize some of that equity without selling their land.
Bob’s Corn also employs nine full-time workers and around 200 seasonal employees, Bob Ricci said.
Their country store opened for the season Aug. 1 and their first picking of corn takes place around Aug. 8. Sunflower events start Aug. 18, and the corn maze and pumpkins are available Sept. 13.
The Washington Farmland Trust has conserved hundreds of acres of farmland in recent years, including the 270-acre Bailey Farm near Snohomish in 2015 and the 260-acre Reiner Farm near Monroe in 2018.
Sarah Ricci said they are using their proceeds to add infrastructure to the farm.
“If we build a building, it has to support the farm,” Ricci said. Farmland Trust officials will meet with Bob and Sarah annually.
Once a dairy farm known as Ricville Farms, Bob’s Corn and Pumpkin Farm is known for their corn maze and pumpkin patch. Bob said he hasn’t designed the 12-acre corn maze yet, but the theme will focus on farm preservation.
“I knew I would never sell it or develop,” Bob said.
Linda Neunzig, agriculture coordinator for Snohomish County, said the conservation of Bob’s Corn is huge for agriculture in the county.
“It’s really about protecting our farmland and keeping our industry economically viable,” Neunzig said.
She noted the contiguous nature of Bob’s Corn and its location near existing farms – Caruso Farm, Chinook Farm, and Skylight Farm.
“It creates that fabric of a farm after farm that works together,” Neunzig said.