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Meadowbrook Farm starting to grow again

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SNOQUALMIE VALLEY - After years of sitting silent between North Bend and Snoqualmie, the Meadowbrook Farm is starting to bustle again.

Next month, the farm will be one of the locations used for Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust's Greenway Days. This will be the second year the farm has been one of the stops for the event, which leads visitors to different parcels of land along the Interstate 90 corridor that have been preserved by the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, a Seattle-based land conservancy organization.

Being preserved as open space was not always in the cards for the farm. In the early 1990s, the land was set to be developed. Local conservationists, along with the trust, King County and the cities of North Bend and Snoqualmie, worked to craft an inter-local agreement to purchase the farm and keep it preserved as open space.

The natural and historic importance of the farm is what motivated locals to act fast. The farm was once a bustling center of activity in the Valley, both before and after it was settled by pioneers. The Snoqualmie Tribe used the land as a hunting ground, and in 1882, a group of investors purchased 160 acres from Valley pioneer Jeremiah Borst and started the Meadowbrook Hop Ranch. The land eventually expanded to 1,500 acres, 900 of which were planted in hops. The hop ranch was home to the first school in the upper Snoqualmie Valley and even had a hotel that stood until 1948.

The hop boom came and went quickly, however, and the farm was used for cattle for the better part of the 20th century. That was until 460 acres of the land were preserved as open space and the Meadowbrook Farm Preservation Association (MFPA), a group made up of many who worked for the farm's preservation, started to plan a future for the farm with the help of public and private organizations.

In the past couple of years, the farm has started to see activity again. The first noticeable addition to the farm was its interpretive center, which will exhibit the histories of both Native Americans and white settlers on the farm. Although it is still not complete, it will be open for certain events this summer and should be a much-coveted public gathering space in the future.

"We have already had people ask us about renting the space," said Mary Norton, a citizen-at-large member of the MFPA.

In 2003, a kite festival came to the farm and last year, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust made the farm a stop for its first annual Greenway Days event. That same event will make another stop at the farm this year and will be one of the stops for a scavenger hunt. A traveling acting troop formed by family members will also stop by the farm for two days and reenact life from the days of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, complete with an evening of music and a Sunday morning church service. There will also be zydeco dancing, live music, a beer garden with the help of the Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Co., pony rides from Fall City Party Ponies, children's games and many different ways to explore and learn about the farm.

The festivities will continue after Greenway Days. The MFPA has worked with the Si View Metropolitan Park District to organize programs that will take place at the farm, such as guided tours, a nighttime astronomy workshop and even an introductory class in the Snoqualmie Tribe language.

"It is a wonderful piece of property," said Greg Watson, an Auburn School District teacher and MFPA volunteer who will be teaching some of the Si View classes.

There should be even more events in years to come. The MFPA has secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, and local people and organizations have pitched in everything from tile for the interpretive center (Dale and Susan Sherman) to volunteer contract work for the center (John Day Homes). There are even hops growing again behind the interpretive center, planted with seeds taken from the farm years ago by local historian Dave Battey.

Watson said the farm is worth preserving because of its beauty, its historical importance and its ability to take a visitor back in time to when the land was used by Native Americans.

"This has been a people place for thousands of years," he said.

* Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust's Greenway Days will be June 10-12. The events at Meadowbrook Farm will be held on June 11 and 12. Visit www.mtsgreenway.org for more information. For information on Si View programs at Meadowbrook Farm, visit www.siviewpark.org.


Editor Ben Cape can be contacted at (425) 888-2311 or by e-mail at ben.cape@valleyrecord.com.

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