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According to local historians, the Skagit Indians were the first tribe to inhabit the island. They settled around the north end of the island, along with the neighboring Swinomish tribe. The Suquamish and Snohomish tribes dwelt on South Whidbey. Each of these tribes was dependent upon canoes for transportation and for the gathering of fish.
On June 2, 1792, Captain George Vancouver landed at Penn Cove aboard the vessel Discovery. On a navigational mission four days later, First Mate Joseph Whidbey discovered the turbulent and narrow passage separating Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island. Because of the churning waters and torrential currents, this passage appeared to be a river's inlet. Note of this discovery was brought back to Captain Vancouver who named this small passage between the two islands "Deception Pass." Captain Vancouver also named the island to the south "Whidbey's Island," after her discoverer, Joseph Whidbey.
In the early 1900s a sternwheeler ship served as the transportation link between Seattle and Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Langley and Clinton. The ship would leave Oak Harbor early each morning and complete the round trip by evening.
It wasn't until 1902 that the first county road was in place linking Coupeville, the county seat, with Langley. Until that time, access between the two regions was gained by boat or by walking 30 or 40 miles along the beach. The county road made trade and communication between North and South Whidbey a profitable affair.
Greenbank's history started in the early 1900's when Calvin Phillips created a model dairy farm, in hopes of luring commerce to the island. Using immigrant laborers, he cleared 125 acres (0.5 km˛) in 1906.
"And the best, though not least of all, there are five thousand enthusiastic persons who are of the opinion that, after all, the garden of Eden never was permanently established on the east bank of the Mediterranean ... but right here on Whidbey Island, and preferably at Greenbank." The Westerner Magazine, November 1913
The farm prospered for several decades before its cattle herd was hit by tuberculosis and had to be destroyed.
The farm limped along until the early 1930s, when it was sold to John Molz, who planted the fields with their most famous crop - loganberries.
The origin and history of the Loganberry in the 1880's was the beginning of the use of breeding to obtain better commercial varieties. Judge J.H. Logan was an interested backyard plant breeder, who began experimenting with breeding small fruits in his home garden at Logan Heights near Santa Cruz, California.
Greenbank Farm became the largest loganberry farm in the United States, with 125 acres (0.5 km˛) of berry vines trellised across the hills.
Sold under the Pommerelle label, loganberry wine gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, although it was never a "high class" wine.
The Pomerelle Company merged with the National Wine Company (Nawico) to form American Wine Growers in 1954. In 1961 they introduced the Hadassim Kosher wine label.
John Sinema managed the berry farm from the early 1950s until he retired in 1970, when Mun and Carolyn Kawasaki took over.
Carolyn Kawasaki remembers the years spent overseeing the fields, when hundreds of Whidbey Islanders picked berries for summer wages.
Although the Kawasakis toiled in the fields to keep the berries producing at their peak, Chateau Ste. Michelle, under U.S. Tobacco management, lost interest in Greenbank Farm, and production began to decline.
A March 1983 South Whidbey Record article said, “the future of the farm is in doubt.” The climate and soil at Greenbank were never ideal for loganberries, but they had been laboriously nurtured by the caretakers, with the addition of herbicides and pesticides. The article noted that the fields should have been sprayed in the winter to prevent insects from laying their eggs in the buds, but they weren’t.
Mun Kawasaki did what he could to keep the berries going, but production declined. Carolyn Kawasaki still has records of when fields were replanted, and how many barrels of berries were produced in a season. In 1982 they set a record with 748 barrels. By 1988 it was down to 400 barrels.
While the loganberries were withering on the vines at Greenbank Farm, Ste. Michelle had a backlog of berries in cold storage.
In 1987 the company decided to use that backlog to produce Whidbey’s Liqueur, and a rebirth for the farm was once again trumpeted in the press.
“Rainbow shines on winery celebration,” a Whidbey News-Times headline on Feb. 4, 1987, read. “Chateau Ste. Michelle’s liqueur production facility and visitors’ center at the site may be a pot o’ gold for Whidbey Island,” reporter Janice Keller wrote.
The opening of the new winery and visitors’ center was attended by then-president of Ste. Michelle, Allen Shoup, who said, “As rich as its history is, we think its future is more exciting.”
The liqueur production, however, did not last. Once the backlog of berries was depleted, Greenbank Farm couldn’t produce enough berries cheaply to meet the company’s needs, and production was shifted to Oregon.
The farm once more fell on hard times, and in 1995 was in danger of being sold to developers. The local community rallied to save the farm, and in 1997 a deal was worked out between the Port of Coupeville, Island County and the Nature Conservancy to purchase the entire farm.
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Guest House Log CottagesSix log & country cottages in forested area.
Smuggler's Cove Bed and BreakfastRomantic lodging on the waterfront.