BOW — Six months after a fire destroyed a barn belonging to Jeff Richardson and Jen Tobon, their family, friends and neighbors are helping build a new one that will allow the couple to continue operating Thoughtful Food, their small farm on Chuckanut Drive.

Few signs of the 1940s-era barn remain after the Feb. 10 fire that killed several rabbits and piglets and destroyed tools and pieces of equipment. Fire crews from Allen, Edison and Samish Island responded, but the building couldn’t be saved.

“There’s really nothing left of the old one,” Richardson said. “This is a whole new structure.”

Richardson and Tobon hosted a “barn raising” party Saturday. Work on the new barn began in June. Tobon said Saturday they hoped to complete the structure within the next few weeks.

Ben Peterson, a friend of Richardson’s, came up from Seattle to lend a hand. He said joining friends Saturday to work on the new barn was a rewarding experience.

“We just love to be able to support Jeff and Jen and their goals with the farm,” Peterson said.

Richardson said he and his wife received kindness and support from neighbors in the weeks after the fire.

Tobon said the response reminded them of why they moved to the Skagit Valley about two years ago to start their farm. She said they were drawn to the close-knit community.

“The support and the positive response has been really overwhelming and reassuring,” Tobon said.

About $20,000 of the new barn’s nearly $70,000 cost was raised through donations, Richardson said.

The farm received an additional $25,000 through a grant from the HumanLinks Foundation , a nonprofit that offers grants and micro-loans to Washington farmers. Insurance covered most of the remaining cost, Richardson said.

Once complete, the barn will store hay and equipment and provide housing for the farm’s pigs, which Richardson said is an absolute necessity in order to keep the animals alive through the winter. Richardson and Tobon plan to grow organic garlic, and the new storage room should help that endeavor, Richardson said.

Thoughtful Food focuses on pasture-raised pork and beef and also grows summer crops.

Reporter Evan Marczynski: 360-416-2149, emarczynski@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Evan_SVH, Facebook.com/EvanReports

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