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Cooperating Farmers!

As early as 1887 cooperatives were being formed by farmers.  The first “Farmer’s Union” organized that year in Silverdale for the purpose of buying feed, began with $300 and had eleven members.  Later they branched out into the mercantile business with C. E. Greaves as their buyer.  While it experienced ups and downs, from these humble beginnings the Silverdale Poultry Association was formed, which lead to the much larger Washington Co-operative Egg and Poultry Association, and later the Washington Farmer Co-Operative Association.  The Silverdale feed depot opened in 1928 and in one year 50,000 crates of eggs and 62,000 chickens were shipped from the dock at Silverdale via the Mosquito Fleet.  Production reached its zenith in the early 1940s but in 1954 the poultry industry was still worth $800,000 in Kitsap.  Commercially significant poultry farming of fryers and layers continued into the early 1970s when the county still produced 700,000 dozen eggs annually. The biggest challenge to poultry farmers by this time was a lack of locally grown feed resulting in increased feed costs.

With improvements in roads, by 1952 a new farm store opened in Poulsbo and the Silverdale location closed but in the heydays of the 1920s and 30s shell eggs were shipped by rail to the Midwest and East Coast and the Co-Operative eventually began processing liquid eggs, canned chicken, and other farm products at plants and facilities located across Washington and Oregon.  Cooperative marketing increased the prices farmers received for their farm produce and membership allowed them to make feed purchases together to save money. Silverdale farmer Gerald Petersen began as a buyer for the Co-operative in Seattle before moving to Kitsap to dairy farm.  The Co-Operative also worked with farmers to do cutting edge research on poultry genetics and bird performance increasing egg production and introduced them to husbandry techniques like the use of lights to extend their laying season.

Other marketing associations playing an important role in Kitsap County Agriculture include the Kitsa-Mason Dairymen’s Association, Kitsap County Fair Association, Kitsap County Livestock Association, Kitsap County Dairy Herd Improvement Association, Evergreen Breeders Association, Washington Cooperative Hatcheries, Washington Cooperative Chick Association, Washington Croft Lily Growers Association, Washington Holly Growers Association, and the Washington Farm Forestry Association.

Kitsap Farmers Continue to Cooperate!

Cooperatives are not just a thing of the past for farmers – they are also the wave of the future.  Today the Kitsap Poultry Growers Cooperative carries the torch of this honorable heritage and supports farmers with poultry processing equipment and educates them about raising poultry.  The Kingston Farm and Garden Cooperative was formed to fill the void left by the closure of Sacks Feed in Kingston and cooperates on group projects and buying power for farmers.  The Puget Sound Meat Producers Cooperative organized to bring USDA inspected slaughter back to the Puget Sound for beef, hog and sheep farmers.

One thought on “Cooperating Farmers!

  1. Thank you for this information. My parents, Leo and Sarah Pinsch purchased the J.O. Thorpe property in 1941. The property had a huge chicken house (2 story; 3 wing bldg.) I have a copy of the Silverdale Poultry Association of my father’s with ten shares. It is signed by Oliver Hagener, Secretary and Carl A. Munson, President.
    Would you like a copy?
    Mary Bertrand

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