Friday, October 28, 2011

New lease on life for old farmhouse on Bainbridge - Kitsap Sun

By Tristan Baurick
Posted October 7, 2011 at 5:43 p.m.

Craden Henderson and Clay Johnson, of PHC Construction, remove one of the windows from the Morales Farm house on Bainbridge Island on Friday. Once it is habitable again, it could be used to house interns who work on the island's 15 small farms. (MEEGAN M. REID/KITSAP SUN)

— Over the eight years since the city bought the five-acre Morales Farm, the rolling fields have slowly come alive with pumpkins, grapes, tomatoes and sunflowers.

Ani Kendig, office manager of PHC Construction, removes molding from the front door during renovation of the Morales Farm house on Bainbridge Island on Friday. PHC and its subcontractors are not charging for the work, although a nonprofit is chipping in the cover some material and permitting costs.

The old farmhouse, though, has remained as empty and lifeless as the day the Morales family left it.
That could change in the coming months as an ambitious plan gets under way to fully restore the Lovgreen Road home and turn it into living quarters for the island's popular farm internship programs.

Bainbridge farming advocacy group Friends of the Farms has teamed with PHC Construction to tear the three-bedroom, 58-year-old house down to the studs and restore it with new walls, windows, flooring and various interior touches that will make the house a home again. The house will also get revamped electrical, plumbing and water systems, and energy-efficient upgrades, including a heat pump and foam insulation.

Marty Sievertson of PHC Construction removes the drywall in the living room of the Morales Farm house on Bainbridge Island on Friday.
Bainbridge-based PHC and its subcontractors are doing the $100,000 project free-of-charge. Friends of the Farms chipped in about $10,000 for building permits and other costs.

Island farmer Brian MacWhorter walked through the house's dilapidated interior as a work crew began breaking into the walls on Friday morning.

"Look at this — it's really an extreme makeover," he said.

Ani Kendig, office manager of PHC Construction, removes molding from around windows Friday.

The 15 or so island farms offer a total of 12 internships, but MacWhorter it's often a struggle to find enough room for the young farmers-in-training to stay. The internship programs doesn't pay much, making it difficult for the college-age interns to cover the relatively high-priced rent at island apartments and shared homes.

"Housing is one of the most important things that keeps the internships going," said MacWhorter, who employs four interns. "Whatever we can do that helps (housing) will keep farming sustainable on Bainbridge Island."

While the Friends of the Farms received city approval to do the restoration work, coming to a lease agreement that allows interns to live at the house is a matter for later negotiations.

If all goes well, three or more interns could move in by March, said Friends of the Farms Executive Director Wendy Tyner.

The house could also be used for farm-related classes or as an interpretive center, she added.

The house was once the home of Teddy Morales, who moved to the U.S. from the Philippines in 1929 and farmed on Bainbridge for decades. He and his family grew berries and various vegetables, but the property was best known for producing a bounty of sweet corn.

Craden Henderson and Clay Johnson of PHC Construction remove a window at the Morales Farm house on Bainbridge Island on Friday.
The city bought the Morales Farm in 2003 for $210,000 with the idea of preserving it as farmland. The farm and several other properties were purchased with an $8 million open space bond approved by voters in 2001.

The property is now used by MacWhorter, who grows tomatoes and other warm-weather crops in greenhouses, a wine maker and a part-time farmer who produces a variety of vegetables. Two island schools have plots for use in educational programs.

Renovation of the house at the Morales Farm on Bainbridge Island started Friday.
The city re-roofed the house a few years ago, but nothing has been done to make it habitable.
"It's actually a pretty sound structure," PHC co-owner Marty Sievertson said. "It's got a nice dry roof, and I haven't found any rot."

The exterior's cedar shingles are also in good shape and will likely remain.

"This is the kind of project I've been looking to do for a while," Sievertson said. "I've been building in Kitsap County and Bainbridge for 30 years. It's been good to me. It's time for me to give back."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

PHC Leads Volunteer Remodel for Friends of the Farms!

On Friday October 7th and 8th PHC will be leading a great volunteer project to renovate a local farmhouse for “Friends of the Farms” on Bainbridge Island!  Our team of volunteers will be gutting the Morales farmhouse at the corner of 305 and Lovgreen with the goal of finishing by Saturday afternoon so we can begin rebuilding it over the subsequent weekends.  Our goal is to have the space inhabitable by early 2012!

We have volunteer commitment from AP Plumbing, Bird Electric, Air Systems, Anderson Windows, Premier Spray Foam, Paneltech International, Re-Power Bainbridge and are getting more every day. Thank you!

Friends of the Farms is a local nonprofit that assists in managing the farms on Bainbridge Island.  They’re responsible for connecting farmers with farmland, bringing farm consultants to the island, and representing the farms to local governing authorities.  They also provide housing for farmers and their hands.  The renovation we’re doing will convert an uninhabitable house into a great little space for temporary farm hands.  The 1000sf farmhouse requires new windows, interior insulation, new drywall, electrical, plumbing, flooring, and a kitchen.  For a number of years PHC has been interested in contributing to the local community by working on projects like this.  We hope it will be the first of many that we can all participate in.
More information on the project go to