Greenbank Farm: The Farm that was Saved

Greenbank Farm, in Washington State, is a community supported farm that teaches the importance of saving seeds, food supply, and cultivating land through local self-governance.

| Winter 2013-2014

The community gathers regularly on Greenbank Farm on Washington State’s beautiful Whidbey Island. They learn about seed saving and sustainable farming. They may also walk its nature paths, enjoy its demonstration gardens, or purchase food or art from several local businesses that generate income for the farm.

Not so long ago, though, this historic former-loganberry farm was about to succumb to residential development. But the local citizens rallied to save it, and turned it into a Mecca for nature lovers, sustainable farmers and gardeners instead.

History of Greenbank Farm

In the early 1900s, the farm encompassed 522 acres. The owners harvested its woodland trees and ran their dairy in the fields. It was eventually sold to John Molz in the 1940s. By 1970, Molz had turned the property into the largest loganberry farm in the country. In the early 70s, a wine company purchased ownership of the property. But in 1995, that company revealed plans to sell the property for residential lot development.

Between 1995 and 1997, locals and friends of locals rallied to make a plan to rescue the farm from development. By 1997, a consortium was formed made up of Island County (the county in which the farm resides) the Nature Conservancy, and the Port of Coupeville (Coupeville is a town near the farm). Together, they purchased the entire 522-acre property. To be exact, the Port of Coupeville acquired the 151-acre operating farm, while Island County and the Nature Conservancy now own the remaining woodlands.

By 2008, the Greenbank Farm Ag Training Center was established. And in 2009, community volunteers developed a new Master Site Plan which was approved by officials; they call it their “road map to the future.” Today, the farm’s main barn dates from 1904. The former farmhand’s house is still in use and is called the “Jim Davis House.” The rest of the buildings repli­cate those of early 1900s farms.

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