Greenbank Farm president resigns

"John Teutsch, president of the Greenbank Farm Management Group, says he recently took stock of his life and the demands on his time and decided something had to go. In a letter to Port of Coupeville president Michael Canfield earlier this week, Teutsch, a retired mortgage banking executive, announced his resignation from the farm's volunteer management group after a year and a half in the position. I'm tired, he said.Teutsch becomes the third president to step down since the more than 500-acre Central Whidbey farm came under public ownership three years ago. He follows the group's treasurer, Ed Van Patten, who resigned three months ago and has yet to be replaced.Teutsch's resignation just prior to the end of the port's three-year lease on its portion of the Greenbank Farm raises questions about the future of the management team and of the farm itself.The Port of Coupeville was a partner, along with Island County and the non-profit Nature Conservancy, in the purchase of the farm in the fall of 1997. Port commissioners oversee the money-making portion of the farm, including its buildings, gift shop and agricultural fields. The management group watches over the day-to-day operations of the farm and makes monthly reports to the port commissioners.Teutsch and his wife Delores have been part of the volunteer effort at the Greenbank Farm for more than three years, and he said a recent review of the plans they had made for themselves following his retirement was eye opening.Most of the things we planned out had taken second place to the farm, said Teutsch. He said it was time to reverse the order and put his personal life back on track. During the past year, Teutsch was instrumental in creating a strategic plan for the farm. That plan is now ready for presentation to the public.Canfield said Teutsch's energy and dedication will be missed.We're very sad, Canfield said. John is a great guy and he's dedicated himself full time to (the farm).Canfield said the port commissioners plan to meet with the farm's remaining management group board members next week to talk about how the board plans to rebuild itself. He said the fact the board is dwindling at the same time a new strategic plan is ready to go is troubling.We're obviously concerned about it, he said.But Canfield allayed fears that the port might decide to pull out of the farm deal.We're not going to do that, he said. I don't want to see anything detrimental come to the farm. Our lease expires this month but we don't have any plans not to renew it.Though he is pleased with the progress the farm has made during the last three years, Teutsch said it is disappointing that it still hasn't been able to generate enough money to cover expenses. Operating revenue from wine sales, grants and fund-raising continues to lag behind expectations. As a result, repair and upgrading of farm buildings and grounds is also falling behind.We lack really good operating capital, Teutsch said. Canfield said the port is well aware of the financial situation at the farm and thinks answers are still out there.Obviously the port doesn't have the money to do what needs to be done, he said. We're working pretty hard on it.Despite his resignation, Teutsch said he and Delores plan to continue volunteering at the farm and he is very encouraged by the farm's new strategic plan. There were always a lot of good ideas, he said. But you also have to have some structure. You have to have a firm direction and a way to measure progress. I think you'll find it's a really good plan.Teutsch also wants to let the community know that the job isn't done at the Greenbank Farm. He hopes to see new people come in to replace and reinforce the core group of volunteers who have been keeping the farm moving forward.Just having a few people isn't going to make it happen, he said. I'd like to see some other people belly up to the bar. "

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