Revisiting the Petersen Farm Campaign

Photo Credit: Don Paulson
Historic Petersen Farm, Silverdale Washington

Silverdale’s Petersen Farm sits in the midst of the Clear Creek Valley. Its green fields, meandering Clear Creek, and wooded hillsides provide habitat for wildlife, ensure a year-round supply of clean water for salmon, and offer a pastoral landscape for passersby to enjoy. Its two original homesteads and c. 1902 barn have stories to tell about the Holm and Levin families who settled there in the late 1880s. As a result of their hard work and ingenuity, farming flourished on the valley’s rich soils
and abundant water.

Photo by Susan Daniels

Gerald and Dorothy Petersen bought the Hilstad dairy (the original Holm homestead) and went into the dairy business only two weeks after they were married in 1948. With a strong commitment to using best farming practices, the Petersens were named Kitsap County’s conservation farmers of the year in 1956 by the Bremerton Junior Chamber of Commerce. They maintained their herd of Jersey cows until 1970, when they shifted to producing grass-fed Hereford beef. While Mrs. Petersen passed away some time ago, Mr. Petersen continued to farm until his death late in 2009 at the age of 94.

Gerry and Dorothy Petersen had no children to carry ontheir farming traditions, but they did have a dream of keeping the land a farm. During his life, Gerry welcomed opportunities to teach others about farming and to pass on farm lore. Since his death, his estate, led by his niece Dorothy Lind, has worked hand-in-hand with Great Peninsula Conservancy to protect this legacy farm in perpetuity.

Photo by Don Paulson
Petersen Farm Campaign

Thanks to the 250 people, local organizations, and agency partners who contributed to the Petersen Farm Campaign, there is a bright future for Petersen Farm. With exceptional support from GPC members and the broader community, Great Peninsula Conservancy raised $415,000 in 2011 to help save central Kitsap County’s largest remaining farm. While delighted with this accomplishment, we weren’t done yet.

The final step was an application for a federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program grant to complete project funding. In June 2012, we learned that Petersen Farm was selected to receive approx. $285,000 from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. With funding complete, Great Peninsula Conservancy will purchase a conservation easement on 120 acres of this legacy farm. The conservation easement will keep the land from being subdivided and prohibit construction of non-farm buildings. With farmers working the land, this legacy farm will continue to provide food for our community and fun opportunities for families to learn about farming.

It has been inspiring to see such enthusiasm for saving a piece of our farm heritage and passion for building a strong farm future in our community.

This article was originally published in GPC’s Fall 2012 newsletter.