Part of the new board of the Friends of Greenbank Farm includes from left, Executive Director Patricia Robinson, President Elaine Meaker, advisor Jerry Lloyd, Francy Blumhagen and secretary Hollie Swanson. Unofficial mascot Myer the black lab, joins where he can to boost community spirit. Photo by Megan Hansen/Whidbey News-Times

Friends of Greenbank Farm gaining momentum

Community members who love the Greenbank Farm are taking formal steps to officially become its “friend.”

A board and executive director were selected for the official Friends of the Greenbank Farm and the group is in the process of finalizing drafts to apply for nonprofit status.

The vision of the group is to promote all aspects and use of the historic farm in an environmentally conscious and sustainable way.

“There are so many untapped opportunities at the farm,” said Pat Robinson, new executive director for Friends of Greenbank Farm. “Our vision is to really get the community involved.”

The group will work in partnership with the Port of Coupeville, which owns the farm. Both entities are in the process of establishing specifics of that relationship.

“We are not funded by the port,” Robinson said. “We are self-regulated, and will be working in tandem.”

The port is restricted in the ways it can do things and how it can raise money, said Jerry Lloyd, who is serving on an advisory committee for the new Friends group.

“It might not be best for them to operate a beer and wine garden but we as a nonprofit could,” he said.

The Friends will serve as managers or sponsors of events and work under contract with the port. Any money made by the group will be invested back into farm.

“We’re going to partner with them in a fair and transparent manner,” said Jan-Marc Jouas, executive director for the Port of Coupeville. “We want them to be the organizers and we’ll be the hosts. We’re not going to be running marathons right out the gate, we’re going to crawl, walk and then run.”

Right now, the group is focused on getting its paperwork in order, taking inventory of the needs at the farm and creating a list of what needs to get accomplished.

Some of that will include reaching out for volunteers, seeking grant opportunities for funding on projects such as upgrades to historic Barn A and identifying timeframes for accomplishments.

“One of our big jobs is going to be communicating with the public,” Lloyd said. “There’s about a year-and-a-half worth of baggage that people who used to help at the farm got frustrated with and said ‘I’m done.’”

“It’s going to be a hard sell,” he added.

The idea is to create some “bread and butter” events, or smaller events, that will start attracting people back to the farm, Robinson said.

“We need some successes under our belt,” she said. “We also need to look at what is feasible — what we can accomplish in the next two years, the next five years.”

Because the group is just getting started and the port is in a state of transition, there won’t be any larger events like the Loganberry Festival this year.

“Our intent is to find events that utilize the farm all year long,” Robinson said. “It’s a constant thought process, planning, organizing and getting the community to see what’s possible and finding the funding to bring the farm back to life.”

n The new Friends of Greenbank Farm board is Elaine Meaker, president; Windwalker Taibi, vice president; Hollie Swanson, secretary; Rob Schouten and Francy Blumhagen. The board meets 10 a.m., the second Tuesday of the month upstairs at the Greenbank Store. Those interested in getting involved can find the group on Facebook or contact Pat Robinson at probin songf@gmail.com