The preservation of farms and farmland is a passion of Gene Knapp and his wife Tish. It’s been that way since they bought one of the oldest farms on Orcas Island back in 1966. In 1997, they made sure their farm will be saved for future generations to enjoy by donating a 30-acre conservation easement on the land to the Preservation Trust.
Deeded in 1883 to James Jorgenson by President Benjamin Harrison, the Knapp Farm, which lies to the north of Buck Mountain, is rich in open fields and woodlands and boasts 100+-year old fruit trees that still produce fruit.
“I spent a lot of time on a farm when I was a boy and feel some good life lessons came from it,” explained Knapp at the time of their decision to protect their land. Tish was raised on a 4,000-acre cotton farm in Mississippi, and remarked, “We wanted our children to have the same opportunities to live closer to nature than you do in a city.” One of Knapp’s children, Nancy, currently owns another farm on Orcas.
Gene Knapp’s firm belief in saving farms also inspired him to take a seat on the board of the San Juan County Land Bank, and later to serve as a San Juan County Councilmember.
The Knapp farm’s natural, scenic, agricultural, woodland and open space qualities enhance the rural character of this quiet corner of Orcas Island. The farm boasts vistas towards the north out to Sucia, Matia and Puffin Islands, the Strait of Georgia and the Cascade Mountains of the mainland beyond. When viewed from Buckhorn Road, the bucolic scene truly remind us all to pause, and rest, and be thankful for the bounty and beauty of our islands.