Our great-great grandparents, Isaac and Margaret Jennings left New Jersey in 1869, coming west on the transcontinental railroad to San Francisco and then continuing on the lumber schooner "Forest Queen" to Port Townsend, to stay with their cousin, Bill Engle on Ebey's Prairie. They filed preemption papers on a quarter section along White Slough in 1871, and an 80 acre Homestead claim two years later. In 1884 they purchased 239 acres from John Conner, which included the Singer and Calhoun farms. In 1887, they purchased 80 acres from James Porter. The 11 acres encompassed in the gardens, were above high tide and were covered with grass and Cedar trees. The farm includes 233 acres. The first crops grown were oats, hay and cattle, but within the first decades crops included potatoes, wheat, barley, horses and dairy cattle.
In 1914 their son, Louis Jennings, married Ethel Shields and they moved into the new home on the current property, built for them by his parents and designed by architect Charles F. Doan. They planted an orchard and garden and the Black Locusts which can still be seen on the property today. They had two children, Margaret and Philip; in 1918 Ethel died from influenza.
The Granary building was constructed in 1914 and originally sat along Porter Slough where the oats could be loaded on sternwheeler steamboats. It was moved to its present location in 1955, when Best Road was improved and widened.
In 1940, Margaret married Ranville Hart, a florist and nurseryman, and they began growing nursery stock on the farm. The farm had a 50 head dairy herd, 30 horses, 100 head of beef cattle, pigs and chickens as well as oats, wheat, hay and pasture. They had 5 children, including Bob born in 1947.
Bob returned to the farm in 1971, after college and 4 years in the U.S. Navy. In 1972 the first retail sales nursery was opened, the operation was expanded regularly, until 1985 when the Garden Center was built. In 1985, Bob married Margie Gilbert, they decided to design the garden of the farmstead to be a design and sales tool for the garden center. Landscape architects Ross Hart and Glen Hunt helped fine fune Bob's design and installation over a cribbage board and lots of "Vino Tinto". The retail nursery was sold to John & Toni Christianson in 1990 and they have created a wonderful desination plant center.
In 2000, infomal vegetable trials started with an intrepid group of Geezers
led by Andy Anderson. In 2008 we increased our vegetable production for retail market and started selling from our farmstand. Although the geezer membership has changed somewhat they still show up on Tuesdays for coffee, cookies, lively discussions, and a bit of digging in the dirt. The Geezers
are a tremendous resource they happily share their knowledge especially with the Seattle Culinary Academy summer class hosted at our farm. Link to the Seattle Culinary Academy
In 2012, Bob passed away after short battle with pancreatic cancer. He was a gregarious proponent of preserving farmland in the Skagit Valley. Keeping alive the dreams of his forefathers and the generations of farmers before and after him.