Editorial: Greenbank (tree) Farm?

The Port of Coupeville commissioners seem rightfully cautious about a proposal to turn the publicly owned Greenbank Farm partially into a tree farm.

The farm’s historical image is that of a dairy farm and, later, a loganberry farm. Its trademark images are the red barns on the farm property, new and old, that house a variety of small businesses.

Putting the farmland to productive use since the public took over has been a challenge but in recent years progress has been made. Acreage has been leased to a seed company, a Community Supported Agriculture effort has successfully sprouted and there is a popular pea patch program.

The proposed farm of trees isn’t a logging operation, but rather a Douglas-fir seed-gathering operation. If allowed, an undetermined number of acres of open space would be given over to timber lands. The farm already has plenty of those in the upper reaches that few people associate with the 500-plus acre gem of Greenbank.

It’s not easy to criticize trees, but there is a place for everything. Right across Highway 525 from the Greenbank Farm is Lake Hancock, an estuary of Puget Sound that once afforded motorists one of the best views on Whidbey Island. But trees planted more than two decades ago by the Navy now block the view. Those who remember it still miss it every time they drive by.

The port commissioners must take care that any tree growing doesn’t significantly change the critical farmland component of the Greenbank Farm. We don’t want it to become the Greenbank Tree Farm.

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