Historic Bainbridge Is. Farm Protected (WA)

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, WASHINGTON, 10/15/01 – Since 1888, the Johnson family has shared their agriculture heritage and appreciation with the community of Bainbridge Island. After the island was dramatically clear cut in the late 1800s, Andrew Johnson was contracted to grow seedlings to replant the city. Years later his grandson Harvey Johnson served in an armed forces reclamation unit after World War II, planting trees to restore war-destroyed lands in Europe. Eventually Harvey Johnson returned to Bainbridge Island to tend to his family’s 20-acre farmland. In his later years, he invited the community to enjoy his land, letting families fish in his pond and 4-H groups use the fields for agriculture projects. Before he passed away in 2000, Johnson made his wishes clear – he wanted his land conserved for agriculture and public use.

Growing increasingly concerned with the rapid decrease of open space in their community, a group of Bainbridge Island residents formed the Trust for Working Landscapes (TWL). With support from the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the City of Bainbridge Island, they saved nearly 3/4 of the Johnson Farm property from possible subdivision and development. TWL will preserve the farm for small-scale agriculture, education programs and public open space. They also intend to dedicate a small portion of the property for affordable housing for local farmers.

“In acquiring this property, we’ve demonstrated our commitment to preserving historic farms – a value emphasized repeatedly by members of our community. The process underlying our success points to the value of partnering with agencies that have the necessary skills in negotiating complex purchases,” said Bainbridge Island Mayor Dwight Sutton.

The City of Bainbridge Island has taken a proactive role in preserving its cherished spaces, especially as more and more people make the island their home. Following the recommendation of Bainbridge Island Mayor Dwight Sutton’s Openspace Advisory Committee, city council members unanimously voted to put an $8 million levy on this November’s ballot. If it passes, the funds will be used to protect clean water, wetlands, wildlife habitat, farms and agriculture land; create new trails; and enhance salmon restoration.

Roger Hoesterey, TPL Northwest regional director, remarked, “The Johnson Farm property is a beautiful landscape, rich with history and cultural significance. But what truly makes it special is the amazing support the project has received from the community and how that momentum has brought about even more efforts to save open space on Bainbridge Island.”

The Trust for Public Land is a private, nonprofit land conservation organization that works across the nation to conserve land for people. Founded in 1972, TPL specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiation, public finance and law to protect land for public use. Working with private landowners, communities and government agencies, TPL has helped protect more than 1,400 special places nationwide for people to enjoy as parks, playgrounds, community gardens, historic landmarks and wilderness lands. For more information about TPL’s work in Washington state and the Northwest, please visit www.tpl.org or call (206) 587-2447.