Howe Now Howe Farm?

The Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board on Wednesday voted to recommend a proposal from South Kitsap School District and WSU Kitsap County Extension for agricultural projects at Howe Farm that would be open to both students and the public. The decision passed unanimously despite protests from people at the meeting at Givens Community Center who said the 83-acre county park in South Kitsap should be left as it is.

The plan is to expand the school district’s agriculture program and 4H club activities to the farm property. The district now has a 2-acre working farm on its high school campus, with pigs, sheep and goats that are raised by students and 4H members. Having access to Howe Farm would allow students to raise large farm animals, including cattle and horses, said Thomas Mosby, the district’s director of career and technical education.
Working with WSU’s master gardeners, students could do field research on a range of topics related to agriculture and natural resources. Plans, to be phased in over time, call for a barn and fenced area for animals, a salmon hatchery and aquiculture study area, an aviary for poultry and gardens whose produce would be sold at a student-run market. There also would be an outdoor turf grass lab and areas for studying forestry and stream management.
Most who commented on the plan described it as a proverbial win-win situation. But not all in the audience favored the proposal. Leona Phillips said she and many others enjoy using the park in its undeveloped state, and she fears increased activity will disrupt both wildlife and the tranquility of the property.
Citing the federal Endangered Species Act, she said, “There are red-tailed hawks, bald eagles in the area where they’re going. This is definitely harassing the wildlife.
“I was at Howe Farm one day when two bus loads of kids came and it was horrible. They were running all over, no control, breaking branches. … This is just wrong, just wrong. There are 100 people at that park every day who walk the trails, walk their animals. I’m all for these agricultural programs, just not there.”
Danny Horovitz, who represents South Kitsap on the board, said, “The parks department and schools should be a really good fit that allows the public to get the most use out of Howe Farm as possible.”
Horovitz noted that the general public would benefit by having the students do much of the development work, such as improving trails. He added a minor note of concern about their trying to do too much and too many projects that may not get finished. “But it is better to get started in a spirit of tolerance and compromise since we will be judged by what the public uses and sees done at Howe.”
Some spoke of the frustration they felt about deadlocks and disagreements among interested parties that have, in the past, stalled plans for the park’s development.
“I guess I’m really tired of everybody blaming each other,” said Karl Duff, representing South Kitsap. “I’d like to see something get going at the park.”

3 thoughts on “Howe Now Howe Farm?

  1. Hurray for the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. Howe Park is a real gem but for many years, that property languished. Expanding educational opportunities there provides the kids with hands-on experiences in a unique and natural setting while also exposing the public to the property’s local historical heritage.

    I read some of the concerns about the busloads of kids stomping around the grounds but that can also be an opportunity to teach the importance of responsible conservationism and the “leave no trace” concepts. I still remember a trip I took to Neah Bay in Jr. High where we walked on a mile-long raised boardwalk path over the fragile terrain. I thought “Man, these must be some *really* important plants”.

  2. “… she and many others enjoy using the park in its undeveloped state, and she fears increased activity will disrupt both wildlife and the tranquility of the property….”
    The problem is…such an unprotected place will be trashed and vandalized … not, I am sure, what the Howes would want….their property wasted.

    The Howe Farm deserves its place in our county as the treasure it is.
    Using it educationally, in keeping with the land and opportunity, is a great idea… and a proper extension of taking its past life forward into one of even greater use….
    Sharon O’Hara

  3. Howe Farm should be left alone, just as it currently is. This travesty by the South Kitsap School District and WSU Kitsap County Extension is a cheap land grab. Isn’t there anywhere else these agricultural needs can be satisfied?

    Sure, we need more farmers, let’s train-up the kids, why study math and science?

    Sadly, many people from North Pierce County, near Gig Harbor, also enjoy the park as the excellent off-leash area it is now.

    Once the development is completed, all us dog lovers can go to the Farm for real.

    How will it even be possible for anyone else to enjoy Howe Farm while all else is going on? This is a very single-minded use of COMMUNITY PROPERTY, not just 4-H school kids, and Wazzu.
    I can hardly wait

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