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Kitsap barn added to state Heritage Farm Register

By LESLIE KELLY
Central Kitsap Reporter Editor
March 7, 2013 · 10:10 AM
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Marilyn and Cliff Holt stand at their barn that was recently named a Heritage barn. / Leslie Kelly

To Marilyn Holt, it’s always just been the barn. But last month it became a heritage barn.

The large English Gambrel style barn, built in 1930, was added to the Heritage Farm Register by the Governor’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. It’s something that Holt took on herself, in between operating the farm.

“What’s special about this barn, is that it’s an actual working barn,” she said. “When we were at the presentation we saw photos of the other barns being added (to the register) and most of them had grass grown up all around them.”

Holt knows the barn only too well. She was raised on the farm which is just east of Central Valley Road. Known to most as the Walker farm, Holt and her husband now operate their diversified family farm business named “Abundantly Green.”

“We took over the family farm in the late 1990s when my father wasn’t able to run it any longer,” she said. “After he died, we inherited the farm in 2001 and became the fourth generation to have the farm.”

The farm has been a working farm in her family since 1892. Her great-grandparents purchased it from the Cooksey family who homesteaded there in the 1880s.

“They cleared about 10 acres and began an orchard,” said Cliff Holt, Marilyn’s husband of the Cooksey family.

In 1892, the farm was sold to Marilyn’s great-grandparents, Frederick Walker and his wife Marian. Frederick was a land speculator and stayed in Seattle conducting business, while Marian milked the cows, sold eggs and tended to the orchard.

When Frederick died in 1896, the farm remained in Marian’s hands along with her second husband. The apples that they grew were taken by the jitney from Brownsville to be sold at Pike’s Place Market.

Marilyn’s grandfather, Erford Walker and his wife, Carolyn, were next to operate the family farm. They began to realize that the orchard was not going to make them a living because most the large orchards had moved to Central Washington where there were irrigation lines. So they removed the trees and began planting hay.

They continued to modernize the farm and built the barn that recently was named a heritage barn.

In the 1960s, the farm was passed to Marilyn’s parents Mable (Walker) and Maynard Holt. Her father had retired from the U.S. Navy and decided that farming was next. They built a modern milk house with a bulk tank and operated a commercial dairy. Marilyn attended Central Kitsap High School and then the University of Washington.

But when the farm needed her, she returned. She and her husband split their time between the farm and Seattle. Soon Marilyn was at the farm most of the time and Cliff retired from the U.S. Post Office in 2009 and since, they have operated Abundantly Green.

They grow vegetables and herbs. They have five acres in mixed products all of which are certified organic and they have free range chickens and ducks. They sell egg and they sell certified organic meat -- beef, pork and lamb. And  they are a Community Supported Agriculture farm.

“That’s where members buy shares and pay in advance to keep the farm operating,” she said.

What’s important about that, she said, is that members can visit the farm and see where their food comes from.

“People have to be invested in their food, because really, you are with every bite you take,” she said.

In all, the farm is 60 acres, although 23 is still forest. They have a small creek that runs through the property and they still have other buildings on the farm that date back years. With no children, she hopes extended family will care for the farm in the future.

With more than 80 chickens, 36 ducks, seven geese, cattle, three dogs, two house cats and two barn cats, the place is a fun spot for kids.

“We have one mother who comes for vegetables and brings her three-year-old son along, just so he can see a farm,” Marilyn said. “And the little guy likes to just stand in the barn and look up.”

Holt credits her father for the barn’s long life.

“He was smart enough to put on a metal roof,” she said, of the barn where she remembers putting up hay as a kid. “That’s what’s kept it standing.”

To learn more about Abundantly Green go to www.abundantlygreen.com, or call 360-692-2504.

 

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