Editorial: Animals, crops gaining ground

Whidbey Island gets a little richer each year as more people try their hand at raising crops and animals.

We’re not talking big-time farming, but every little bit helps. A beef cooperative has formed to sell island-raised beef on the island under the Whidbey Island Grown label; the independent 3 Sisters Cattle Co. appears to be thriving; last weekend there was a tour of chicken-coops around the island; and farmers’ markets are starting to open for the long season that now encompasses spring, summer and fall.

People are drawn to Whidbey Island for its rural character, and many want to contribute to that character. Fortunately, we have plenty of people to help them get started, from the reinvigorated Grange movement to 4-H clubs, WSU Extension, Tilth, the Community Sustained Agriculture effort based at the Greenbank Farm, and many other sources of help, including longtime farmers happy to give some advice to novices. Fortunately, we still have Ebey’s Reserve as the centerpiece of island agriculture with its hundreds of carefully cultivated acres surrounding the historic town of Coupeville.

With any agricultural activity comes responsibility. You can’t just decide to leave home for a weekend without first assuring that the animals will be in good hands. But it’s satisfying to raise a few healthy hens, goats, sheep, cows, or various other barnyard animals.

So quit putting it off. Spring is here and it’s time to start raising your own vegetables and animals. If you love our rural character, do your part to keep it alive.

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