Opinion

Editorial: Island gem turns 10

It has been a great 10 years for the Greenbank Farm.

The community celebrated the 500-acre farm’s birthday Sunday amid speeches, homegrown food and local musical talent. It was a great party and one richly deserved by all who had a hand in saving the farm.

Ten years ago, the farm’s corporate ownership decided to dump it, most likely to a developer. There’s no more beautiful spot on the island. The farmland serves as a green girdle between the north and south, offering splendid views to the east and west. For years, people who thought there should be a physical divide between North Whidbey and South Whidbey eyed the Greenbank Farm area as the location for a canal, allowing boaters to cross between Admiralty Inlet and Saratoga Passage. This particular pipe dream never happened, and it’s all for the better.

In the past 10 years, the Greenbank Farm has served to unite the island rather than divide it. It flourishes with volunteer help from all over the island and its businesses depend on attracting shoppers islandwide. From the weekend Farmers Market to the permanent shops in the attractive new barn-like building, the farm has become a popular destination, whether you’re from Oak Harbor, Coupeville or Langley.

Gazing today over the farm’s hundreds of acres of forest, grass and farmlands, one shudders to think that there could well be 500 or more homes there had the community not banded together to save the farm. Island County, the Port of Coupeville, the Nature Conservany, the Trust for Public Land and dozens of regular folks all played a critical role in the successful public purchase of the farm. Later, the state Legislature provided $1.5 million in economic development funds for the new building and infrastructure improvements.

Looking ahead, the farm’s permanence needs to be assured with a conservation easement covering all areas outside the commercial core, and improved promotion is needed to keep people on and off the island informed of farm activities and opportunities. But overall, the hard work was done 10 years ago when the people joined together to save the Greenbank Farm from development.

Community Events, April 2014

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