By Herb M. Beck
My wife Karen and I wanted to start a hobby farm. We both grew up in West Seattle and were high school sweethearts. Both of our parent’s homes had views of Vashon Island. Our friends Mark and Joyce Vornbrock had recently purchased 10 acres on Vashon Island. Mark suggested we look at land on the Island.
It was September, 1979. We met with one of the Island realtors. The first property we looked at is where we live today. Four and one-half acres of raw land, overgrown with scotch broom and blackberries, and alder, birch, and willow trees. It’s less than a mile from Vashon town, and our children could walk to the elementary school. We fell in love with the island very quickly. We had been researching the hobby farm lifestyle for a couple of years. We were now ready to begin!
We met Vic Urban, an excavating contractor who would clear the land for us. After a few weeks with his bulldozer and tractor, we could see our beautiful land. Permitting in 1981 was a fairly fast process, about three weeks. We installed our electric power, water, and gravel driveway during the summer of 1981. House construction started September 1, 1981. We had some very good tradesmen to help build our dream home. We also had help from family members and friends. Karen and I and our two children, Herbie (8 years old) and Kristen (3 years old), moved into our new home on March 1, 1982.
With a new house to live in, we were ready to start the hobby farm. Our pasture grass had been planted in September while building the house. Our daughter Kristen began raising 12 baby chicks in the new house while we built a chicken house and pen. We prepared the soil and planted a large vegetable garden and a one-eighth-acre pumpkin patch. We constructed outbuildings and landscaped our yard.
The next year, we built livestock fencing and acquired two ponies. We also enlarged our market garden and pumpkin patch with the help of our new compact farm tractor. Our home was now looking and feeling like a hobby farm, and we were having fun!
The next year, we added 2 horses and 2 pigs, more chickens and ducks, and you-pick vegetables and pumpkins. The pumpkin patch was really fun for everyone. Our children worked hard to make it a big success. The elementary school students used the pumpkin patch for field trips. One of the first grade teachers, Mrs. Tokar, used to say “There is a little bit of sunshine in every pumpkin”, and I will always remember that.
We were blessed with a third child, Brittany, in 1987. She also helped with the farm in the 1990s. If you had young children or were a child on Vashon Island during the 1980s and 1990s, you will likely remember getting your Halloween pumpkin at the Beck Family Farm on Cove Road.