PORT GAMBLE — Though they may not be using pitchforks and wearing overalls, planners at Olympic Property Group are still working hard on the farm. After acquiring the historical Babcock Farm, located near Port Gamble, OPG employees are doing their best to get it up and running again.
And boy howdy, it could contribute a lot to the overall Port Gamble Master Plan.
“In a perfect world, the property would do a couple of things,” said OPG President Jon Rose. “One, get it leased long term, and two, with the greenhouses combined with the farm, we could do locally grown produce.”
The 40-acre farm had been run by the Babcock family since the 1800s until 2005, when Harvey Babcock retired. He sold the land, farm and structures to OPG this year. Rose said he envisions a program in which community members work at the farm to help it get back on its feet, and harvest the reward of fresh, organic and locally grown produce.
Now, the company is searching for agriculturalists willing to help get the operation going again.
“We are willing to entertain people who are interested,” said OPG project manager Sue Schroader. “We would start that sooner than the master planning if we can.”
OPG planners have been working on redeveloping the Port Gamble area for the past six years. In May 2006, OPG and Rose hosted an open house for residents to express their concerns and ideas on how best to develop the historical mill town. Port Gamble is one of just a few locations in the United States on the national registry of historical towns, not just houses. It was established in 1853 by Pope and Talbot, the business which later served as a parent company for OPG and Olympic Resource Management.
Schroader said the next public meeting regarding the Port Gamble Master Plan will happen sometime before the end of the year, and Babcock Farm will now have a place in the project.
“It’s taken us six years to get to this point,” she said. “We’ve probably only been doing it the last two or three years intently.”
Though it could be several years down the road, once Babcock Farm is again up and running, the produce there may also be sold at local farmers markets rather than the Port Gamble General Store, Rose said.
“The farm has been used many different ways, the most recent of which was raising cattle,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’d like to have a caretaker residence, mixed pasture, an orchard, gardens, we’d like to have berries, a you pick kind of deal. We’d like to see a section where we can grow hops and (have a winery)… We think this is a fabulous opportunity to work with local school districts and colleges for education opportunities. That’s the Port Gamble goal, is life-long learning, and this really fits with that.”