For the first time in its 103-year existence, Faraway was a stop on the Key Peninsula Farm Tour. We were one of 13 farms to open our doors to the people of Key Peninsula and beyond—to showcase the craftsmanship, creativity, knowledge, skills and tenacity that have been a part of the KP’s rich farming history for over a century.
It all started when we were considering buying Faraway in the summer 0f 2016. I’m a licensed broker and found the real estate listing on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) website. I knew a little about Longbranch from what I had read online after seeing the listing, but my husband and I had never spent any time on the Key Peninsula. Before we purchased this rundown property, I wanted to do a bit more homework on the area.
Where did I go for information? Straight to Google.
I searched “Key Peninsula” and “Longbranch” and was so happy to discover the longest-running farm tour in Pierce County was based locally: the Key Peninsula Farm Tour.
In September 2016, when we had only owned Faraway for a month, I decided to host a “post-farm tour” potluck for 30 or so of our friends and new neighbors. I was so intrigued with the farm tour that if I couldn’t be on it, I wanted to somehow be a part of it.
Looking back, I must have been crazy! The house was still littered with shabby leftover furniture and dishes, and the rug in the dining room was stained and patched with duct tape.
In the first couple of weeks, I had to literally rake the carpets before vacuuming them, because you can’t vacuum up pine cones and trash. I had scrubbed walls and drawers and cleaned out cupboards and washed a zillion dishes, but it was still pretty sad, inside and outside the house.
During the potluck, I told several people, “Next year, I am going to be on that farm tour,” and I was always met with the same blank expression. Then whomever I was talking to would look around at the dying gardens, the rotting wood, the broken windows and peeling paint. The blackberry vines covering acres of the property and sneaking their way into windows and cracks in the walls. The crumbling ceilings and broken gutters creating small ponds along the sidewalks.
Fast forward one year later: I achieved my goal of being on the Key Peninsula Farm Tour, although I didn’t submit an application to be a “participating site” until July 24. So 10 short weeks and a lot of hustle later, we opened our gates to hundreds of people.
What a day!
Gorgeous weather, happy vendors, smiling musicians. I was pleasantly shocked by how many people showed up for our first stop on the farm tour. So many hugs, so many people running into each other for the first time in years.
We offered unique plants, homemade soap, organic and ethically raised meat, make-and-take crafts for kids and feed samples from our favorite local feed store.
Fresh Food Revolution Co-Op had fresh produce for sale and Gnosh food truck was here too. If you brought apples and a container, Hans from QBerry Farm sent you home with your own fresh cider. If not, he had grapes and gave samples of grape juice.
My next-door neighbor Connie Hildahl was on hand to answer questions and sign copies of her beautiful photo-filled book, “Echoes of Faraway.” Her display was like a step back in time, set up with newspaper clippings, photos and memorabilia that kept people interested and asking questions all day long.
We answered other questions about Faraway at our information booth, and there were raffle prizes awarded to a handful of the lucky people who filled out comment cards before leaving.
Tim Kezele, who has worked his "Longbranch Tree & Shrub Care" magic for three different owners over the past 40 years (including us) led tours down the 200-foot-long, covered pergola. I don’t think he had time for more than a bite of his breakfast burrito.
The crowds showed up at 9:50 and were still walking down the pergola at 4:30, a half hour after the farm tour closed and while vendors were loading up their trucks and leaving. I actually had to ask people to leave so I could finally let my dogs out of the house.
That night, after everyone left, Tweed Meyer and I had a glass of wine and started reading comment cards, and over and over the words from the community filled my heart to bursting.
My favorite comment might have been, “My favorite part (about today at Faraway) was everything.”
Brook Hurst Stephens lives in Longbranch. She can be reached at HistoricFaraway@gmail.com and you can follow the property’s daily progress at Historic Faraway on Facebook.
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