Our Story

“Something pulled us here

that is so much bigger

than we really understood”

The History of this Farm

The stories of our farm have accumulated over the years, but there seems to be a common thread that has been cultivated by all who have come and gone – it has been a place for growing healthy food, raising family and livestock, and a place for refuge for healing.

Our land was first settled 120 years ago. The homesteaders who came here first raised our barn, and then built a small cabin while they tended their crops – we still enjoy the fruits of their labor when our King Apple tree and cherries bloom.

After passing from owner to owner through small exchanges in 1930, the farm fell into the loving hands of Johnny Jones. Jones was a World War I veteran who had discovered that he had cancer. In response to his diagnosis, he decided to purchase this farm, and waged a path to health by eating raw vegetables and raising goats for their delicious goat milk.

While living out his days in this healing landscape, he expanded the farm by drudging a pond where the original cabin sat. That very cabin now sits on the bluff by our main house as a reminder of his ambition. After World War II, building supplies were scarce, so he used the dredging earth from the pond as mortar to build our main house (many of the original walls were kept intact when Steve did a remodel and expansion in the 1990’s).

There are many wonderful stories told about old Johnny Jones by local islanders. They paint a grand picture of the man he was. He was known to love animals and let them roam freely in and out of his house. He kept horses, goats, pigs and chickens, and experimented with breeding cows.

Jones also had a beautiful black stallion named Diablo. His friends would warn him, “that horse will be the death of you Johnny!” And he’d reply with a gleam in his eye, “what a way to go!” Johnny Jones spent his last happy moments on the back of Diablo before he was thrown to his death. He was in his 70’s when he passed.

After Johnny Jones death the farm was sold to Lucy Bangs. The Bangs raised pigs and turned the barn a giant pig stall. During that era the farm became a safe and healing place for veterans of the Vietnam War to retreat and reintegrate with society.

The Bangs eventually sold the farm to The Robinsons who owned it for just a couple years. The Robinson turned the original cabin, at this point known as the “goat shed,” into an artist studio. The Robinsons exhaled a breath of creativity into the land then let it rest before the beginning of its next incarnation… which brings us to our current custodians Mimi and Steve.

In 1988 Mimi and Steve were living in Seattle fixing up an old house, gardening in their backyard and working on their teaching careers. The year had been particularly challenging for them for a variety of reasons. Knowing the challenges they were facing, Steve’s Mother sent Mimi a brochure to a “Seed of Singing” workshop taught by Susan Osborn on Orcas Island in hopes that it might inspire her. Mimi attended the workshop held on this very farm. She was so moved by Susan’s teachings, and the land and people that surrounded her that she knew she had to bring Steve back to Orcas to show him everything she had seen. That opportunity presented itself the following weekend when they were both enlisted to join a “work party” thrown to help clean up the farm.

When Mimi and Steve got to the farm they walked up the hill to explore the pastures with their dog Blue. They laid down in the grass under the big King apple tree in that warm afternoon and took a long nap. When they woke, the beginning of a new chapter started to unfold.

That weekend they learned that the farm was going to be auctioned off in the following few days. That night Steve woke and asked Mimi if she could see them living their full time. She said YES! and the very next day they started calling realtors and family for support.

It was a blue moon that day, and Oma, Steve’s Mother, flew up to walk the land with them. She agreed that it was worth the effort to purchase the farm. Mimi called her farther to get his advice and ask for his support. He was a good devil’s advocate, but by the end of the call he had agreed to help them purchase the farm.

That year they started a small garden and continued hosting “The Seeds of Singing” workshops with Susan Osborn and crew. They deepened their relationship with the community of friends that attended the workshop and started to get a feel for the capacity of the Farm.

A garden was started to produce food for Susan’s workshop meals, but then grew to sell fresh basil and salad greens for a local market. It wasn’t too long after that a couple of restaurant accounts manifested, and then in 1990, they started a booth at the Farmers Market in Eastsound.

One day in 1992 the farms first Farm Intern walked up the driveway looking for work. Soon the farm was bringing yearly interns to the island producing enough food to support those who lived there and more. Many of those interns still live on Orcas Island raising their families and living their own dreams. This one has been ours, and we feel so blessed to play a part in this grand story that we call the Morning Star.

© 2016 Morning Start Farm, Orcas Island