It was 1962 when Alice and Larry Parker first saw their place and fell for it “like a ton of bricks.” Nestled well back from the road in a gentle valley beyond Olga on Orcas Island, the land has the same effect on those who see it today.
Larry’s affection for the farm shines through in his tender words and caring actions. When he donated a conservation easement on the property to the Preservation Trust in 2000, it was a decision consistent with what he believes and values – a way to ensure the health and integrity of the land into the future. It also honored the previous owner.
“We bought this land from a guy who had owned it for 30 or 40 years,” Larry recalls. “His love for the place was obvious and he wanted to know what I intended to do with it before he would sell it to me. There were others interested who wanted to break it up and sell it off. Putting the easement on the land was a way of respecting his wishes and clarifying mine.”
Under the terms of the conservation easement, the 80-acre farm may not be subdivided, and the number and location of structures is limited to protect the natural and open-space features. The property adjoins a 30-acre parcel to the west where an easement was donated to the Trust in 1990, creating a broad area of protection along Point Lawrence Road.
Today “Orchard House,” Parker’s charming home, sits on a south-west facing knoll overlooking a large vegetable garden. Sprays of delicate pink roses – a tribute to Alice who passed away in 2001 – edge the yard with fragrance and color. In the extensive Gravenstein apple orchard Larry planted in the early 70’s, branches are laden with ripening fruit. Ponds fringed with willow provide ideal habitat for songbirds and insects, and the pastures are lush, even as autumn turns them gold.
Trying to capture the feeling and beauty of the place in words is a challenge, but Larry gets to the essence with ease: “Well, it’s just always satisfying to be on the land.”