Lavender Festival farm has a lot of history

As a youth, Peggy Darst Townsdin enjoyed living on the historical Darst Farm, now the site of the Lavender Festival. - --
As a youth, Peggy Darst Townsdin enjoyed living on the historical Darst Farm, now the site of the Lavender Festival.
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Special to the News-Times

On July 31 and Aug. 1, artists, musicians and lavender lovers of all kinds are invading the beautiful grounds of the Lavender Wind Farm on Darst Road. The event is free to the public and runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

I want to share a little bit of our family farm history, which includes the land that is now the Lavender Wind Farm. I personally sold five acres to Sarah Richards in the summer of 1998. Several years later, my dad, Gerald Darst, sold the adjoining three and one-half acres to Sarah. We love what she has made of the land and her breathtaking, well groomed, purple fields of lavender, yellow sunflowers, water pond and benches for relaxing on to take in the views.

In July of 1854, James Harvick took a Donation Land Claim of 160 acres at this site. In August of the same year, Harvick sold the land to Capt. Fay. The land then passed through three hands and in February of 1902 was bought by Charles Mitchell. It was Mitchell who built the big red barn about the year 1910 to 1920 and farmed the land for many years.

In 1932, a young self-made farmer, Glenn Darst, bought 72 acres. In 1936, Neal Noorlag Sr. bought 64 of Mitchell’s acres. Soon Darst bought the land from Noorlag. Darst also bought other land along West Beach Road, until he owned a whole mile of beautiful waterfront property, over 350 acres. Darst also bought land on Libbey Road and in San de Fuca and later in Skagit Valley. Darst planted filbert nut trees on the spot where the Lavender Wind Farm is now. Later, when the price fell on the nuts, he took all of the trees out. Then he planted iris there and later Gerald planted potatoes on this site.

Glenn and his sons, Gerald and Earle, farmed their whole lives. Gerald and his family lived on the West Beach land, farming the whole mile. Earle lived in the Mount Vernon area becoming partners in the Darst Bulb farm business with his father. Glenn and Madeline Fisher Darst, who was granddaughter of Capt. Edward Barrington, never moved off the island and lived on Libbey Road, later building their dream home on the beach in San de Fuca. Gerald raised beef cattle, hay, wheat, rye and other crops, but became famous all around for his potatoes.

Glenn became a very successful iris bulb grower, shipping hundreds of thousands of bulbs to even far-away places such as Holland each year. Between the Darst men and their farms, many young men and women found jobs working in the fields and warehouses. Earle still farms at the young age of 91, growing iris and daffodils for the flowers.

Glenn was my grandfather and Gerald my dad. I am proud of their hard work and legacy. I feel blessed to be living on my own five acres of the family farm. I will be at the Lavender Wind Farm Artist Invasion selling my Whidbey Island photo history books and beach glass items. Please come out to the farm and enjoy our views, the artists and musicians on Sarah’s beautiful Lavender Farm.


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