Two Food Forests, One Island
The Bainbridge Island Food Forest project started with a 13-acre property located at the old M&E Christmas tree farm on the north end of Bainbridge Island -- a parcel with the potential for a thriving and diversely sustainable ecosystem.
Our goal is to restore old ecosystems for new generations to enjoy and build healthy habitat for native species through regenerative farming practices, improving soils, and protecting watersheds.
For many years, Friends of the Farms searched for someone who could work with us to bring this wonderful site back to productive, environmentally-responsible public use. However, deed restrictions placed on the property when it was given to the City of Bainbridge Island kept getting in the way. A new approach was needed.
Always seeking the highest and best uses of all of the public farmland properties, Friends of the Farms is also exploring the potential for a second food forest at Johnson Farm in addition to M&E -- two Food Forests, each with its own unique attributes tailored to the existing landscapes, allowable uses, surrounding neighborhoods, and amenities.
Currently, Friends of the Farms is engaged in converting the open areas where Christmas trees were once grown and harvested to easily maintainable native pollinator meadows that will be edged by a forageable fringe (a veritable "snack trail") of Blackcap Raspberries, Elderberries, Evergreen Huckleberries, Salmonberries, Blackberries, and more, that can continue to contribute to local Island larders and wildlife well-being without getting out of control and taking over the entire site.
The expertise of the Xerces Society, NW Meadowscapes and the Kitsap Audubon Society have been sought to better understand and ensure the project supports the beneficial plants, animals, and insects inhabiting the site.
We also commissioned a rapid ecological assessment from Biohabitats to better understand the intricate inner workings among soil types, water flow and quality, vegetation types and the effects of climate change and fuel loading.
In addition to looking at broad-scale landscape types and treatments, established trails will get the maintenance they need, and the Manzanita Creek ravine will get the native forest restoration that it requires. The farmlands near Day Road and the M&E property are, in reality, the headwaters of Manzanita Creek, a potential salmon-bearing stream and one of the Island's largest aquifer recharge areas.
Our goal is to craft a management plan to insure these uses and the health of this area for the long term, as we work with the City of Bainbridge Island and the Parks District on a maintenance plan to ensure public access and sustainable use.
Over the past 6 months we’ve:
- Commissioned a Biohabitats report ( report link here ) and have met (remotely) with a consultant to go over recommendations.
- Had ongoing meetings and consultations with the Xerces Society and NW Meadowscapes.
- Met with the Kitsap Audubon Society, and with the help of Don Willott established an eBird hot spot at the food forest with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology E.Bird database.
- Continued to meet with local community and neighbors
Priorities work at the M&E property:
- Clear weedy vegetation in the open areas and subsequent establishment of meadows that would provide food and habitat to native pollinators
- Plant edible native hedgerows of Salmonberry, Elderberry, Serviceberry, etc., in select areas that can be used by wildlife and walkers alike as a “snack trail”
- Restore native vegetation in the Manzanita Creek ravine and reestablish the Creek’s natural streamway
- Reestablish existing trails and erosion-control measures, working with the City of Bainbridge Island and BI Parks Department
- Expand existing trails to begin to link up the M&E trails with the western right of way and the Grace Church trails that serve The Island School
To get involved as a volunteer, please email BFF@friendsofthefarms.org.
To make a donation to the Bainbridge Food Farm, please go to: https://www.friendsofthefarms.org/donate-2