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Greenbank clears second hurdle
Greenbank Farms long-awaited renovation plans moved a giant step forward this week, as the state House included the $1.5 million request in its capital budget announced Sunday. The full amount of the fund request was also included in the proposed Senate budget announced earlier this month.
Now, the farm will have to wait until the special legislative session convenes May 12 to hammer out a final budget.
While this legislative session has been mired in partisan politics, both sides of the aisle have supported the Greenbank Farm project.
Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island) has long been a supporter of the efforts to make the farm an economic development magnet on the island, while maintaining a valuable link to the Whidbey Islands past.
I feel we have to maintain the presence of this farm, she said. Its a part of our heritage.
The central island loganberry farm with a commanding view of Saratoga Passage was once a vital part of the islands agriculture.
The berry fields are gone now, although stubborn loganberry vines continue to sprout in the tall grass and new plants have taken root.
Rep. Barry Sehlin (R-Oak Harbor) had no problem backing the project.
This is one of the projects we do for economic development that has great potential for success, he said.
People know and love the farm, he continued. Its a very important feature for Whidbey Island just because of what it is.
Greenbank Farm Executive Director Laura Blankenship was taking a cautiously optimistic approach.
Im dancing with excitement, but trying to be cautious and sensible. Its not a done deal, she said.
Blankenship applauded Whidbey Island Representatives Barry Sehlin and Barbara Bailey for their efforts in keeping the project in the House budget, and seeing it through to approval.
Its been a process of little miracles and a lot of hard work, she said.
The farm plans on using the $1.5 million to renovate one of the farms vintage barns to use as an alpaca fiber processing mill, and replace a smaller barn to create more commercial spaces.
Money would also be used for general sprucing up, such as improving internal roads and parking areas and landscaping.
Farm party set
The money may not be in the bank, but Greenbank Farm still has a lot for which to be thankful. The group is inviting the public to join them at the farm Saturday, May 10, for a day of celebrating the successes of the past year.
There will be appetizers and desserts from 4 to 7 p.m., a no-host wine tasting bar and non-alcoholic punch. Music will be provided throughout the day by the Saratoga Chamber Players and the Shifty Sailors.
Board president Marcia Comer will emcee a program of presentations and acknowledgements at 5 p.m., and the Master Gardeners Association will give tours of their educational gardens.
Dick Whittick will bring some of his alpaca herd by for a visit.
You can reach News-Times reporter Marcie Miller at email@example.com or call 675-6611.