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Keeping Ebey's forever: tours, workshops aim at preservation

The farming taking place on Ebey’s prairie contributes to the historic character of Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve. - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
The farming taking place on Ebey’s prairie contributes to the historic character of Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Preserving historic homes and the acres of picturesque farmland has been high on the minds of stewardship-thinking residents living on Central Whidbey Island.

A conference this weekend will celebrate their accomplishments and figure out new ways to continue preserving the cultural integrity of Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve.

In its second year, the Ebey’s Forever conference provides the series of workshops and conferences where participants learn success stories and develop tools to help preserve the area.

“This is an area of deep, deep local stewardship,” Ebey’s Landing National Historical Preserve manager Mark Priess said, describing the conference as designed to provide residents with the tools they need to continue that stewardship.

The first day of the conference is devoted to field trips that highlight some of the accomplishments that residents have achieved through the years. All field trips depart from the Au Sable Institute, 180 Parker Rd., while the edible Taste of Ebey’s takes place in the Coupeville Recreation Hall.

One noteworthy event offers a tour of historic farms and homes that are scattered throughout Ebey’s Landing. One location is the Jenne Farm, which is owned by Fran Einterz. He had purchased the farm 10 years ago with the hopes of preventing it from being developed. So far, his efforts have been successful.

Another spot on the tour is the Charles Angel house, which is owned by Larry Cort. He and his wife, Lisbeth, have spent the last three years sprucing up and restoring the historic home.

Other field trips scheduled for the day include touring barns that stand within the reserve; discovering the food and products that are produced on local farms; and learning about the area’s history by touring remnants of Whidbey’s past.

Friday wraps up with what Priess describes as the “biggest potluck in the universe,” celebrated at the Crockett Barn, 1056 Crockett Road.

The second day of the conference is devoted to a series of workshops at Coupeville Middle and High School.

The keynote speaker for the conference will be Judy Wicks, who hails from Philadelphia. She is owner of the White Dog Cafe and specializes in developing local economies by working with local farmers to purchase their products.

“She really, by example, developed a sustainable business that is profitable and serves the people of the community,” said Emi Morgan, outreach coordinator for the Reserve.

Another workshop taking place Saturday will feature Chris Moore from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. He will speak about improving energy efficiency and cost effective strategies to improve historic structures.

Priess will take advantage of the event to announce the formation of the Ebey’s Forever Fund which will provide financial assistance for owners of historic properties. In addition, he will announce a time for a workshop to gather historic property owners so they can meet and brainstorm solutions to common issues they face.

“We’re trying to provide the community with new tools,” Priess said.

The Ebey’s Forever Conference takes place Nov. 6 and Nov. 7. For a list of field trips and workshops, and to register, visit www.ebeysforever.com.

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