SAMISH ISLAND — With the help of about 500 donors including area families, businesses and organizations, Skagit Land Trust is the new owner of property known as the Samish Flower Farm.

The land trust announced Wednesday its official purchase of the Samish Island waterfront property.

Skagit Land Trust Executive Director Molly Doran said the previous owners kept about 3 acres of the property, including homes, and the land trust purchased the other about 34 acres of undeveloped land.

The property, which boasts Padilla Bay beach and mature forest, is called the Samish Flower Farm because it’s where Mary Brown Stewart pioneered tulip farming in the Skagit Valley.

As a land trust property, the Samish Flower Farm will be managed as a conservation area and will be opened to the public.

Doran said the land trust plans to build a parking area and trails throughout the property.

The land trust began fundraising to buy the property over the summer. Local donors and a $500,000 loan from the nonprofit The Conservation Fund made the purchase possible.

After reaching a purchase agreement with the sellers last year, the land trust had eight months to raise the $1.24 million to seal the deal.

“Skagit Land Trust’s ability to quickly garner the support of so many individuals and groups to ensure that this ecologically valuable shoreline forest will be protected, speaks to the close-knit community,” said Caitlin Guthrie, associate director of The Conservation Fund’s Conservation Loans program.

Without the land trust purchasing the property for conservation, the land could have been cleared and subdivided for the construction of 10 homes, according to a news release.

“All of us are so grateful that our community came out in full force to support this project,” Doran said in the release. “This forest is such a huge part of the island’s character, and we all know how precious natural shoreline is.”

About 17 Samish Island residents joined a land trust steering committee to rally for conserving the property.

“They helped lead tours, presented informational booths at summer events, supported challenge matches and talked to just about everyone who cared about preserving the character of the entrance to Samish Island,” land trust Development Director Laura Hartner said

The descendants of Mary Brown Stewart who decided to sell the property are celebrating the land trust’s new ownership.

“Our dedication to this property, so cherished by our family, grew out of a farming history,” Stewart’s great-granddaughter Maggie Murphy said. “We are honored for the opportunity to conserve this diverse ecosystem through the Skagit Land Trust.”

Those interested in visiting the portion of the property south of Samish Island Road with Padilla Bay shoreline can access the area by walking along an old unpaved road. Doran said the land trust also plans to organize tours and volunteer events for the portion of the property north of the road.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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