Vashon’s land trust will give tours this weekend of a swath of property near town that it plans to purchase as its first-ever farmland preservation project.
“It’s a chance to make sure everyone who wants to see it sees it,” said Tom Dean, executive director of the land trust, “and it’s an opening foray into what will become a public space.”
The Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust announced last winter that it intends to purchase 12 acres of land behind the K2 building from islander Miyoko Matsuda, who with her husband farmed strawberries there until the 1980s. The property is currently a hay field, but the land trust plans to lease it as affordable farmland, which many believe there is a lack of on Vashon.
The land trust is under contract to purchase the property for $510,000. So far it has raised about $85,000 in donations from its board members and other donors. The nonprofit also expects to receive roughly $350,000 toward the purchase from King County’s Conservation Futures Tax and Parks Expansion Levy, though that allocation has not been formally approved. The land trust hopes to raise about $90,000 more in private donations.
The purchase is set to close at the end of September. Because the county’s budget is not finalized until later in the year and fundraising may not be complete, the land trust plans to take out a bridge loan from a national organization called The Conservation Fund. Dean noted that Matsuda gave the land trust a year to line up its funding.
“For our donors, it shows a level of commitment to the project,” he said of taking the bridge loan. “We’re going to close the deal and finish fundraising.”
The rolling property abuts a meadow outside the Open Space for Arts & Community as well as a 5-acre wooded parcel that Matsuda’s brother owns and promised to the land trust in his will. The site is laced with informal trails that people use to travel from town to Center and Paradise Valley. Dean said the land trust plans to keep those trails open in addition to leasing out the farmland. Land trust officials hope the purchase is the first of many farmland preservation projects on the island.
“I think 20 years from now, we’ll look back and say thank God we have these farms that are protected,” he said.
Saturday’s event will include a guided tour, information about local wildlife and guest speakers.
An open house at the Matsuda Farm will be from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Park at the Open Space for Arts & Community.