Finnriver CoLab opens in Chimacum

By Robin Dudley of the Leader
Posted 7/7/15

"Sometimes ‘community’ almost doesn’t feel like a strong enough word," said Crystie Kisler at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the new Finnriver CoLab in Chimacum on July …

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Finnriver CoLab opens in Chimacum


"Sometimes ‘community’ almost doesn’t feel like a strong enough word," said Crystie Kisler at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the new Finnriver CoLab in Chimacum on July 2.

Offering a shared work environment for independent professionals, the CoLab at the historic Brown Dairy farmhouse is an offshoot of the existing CoLab in downtown Port Townsend, located on Taylor Street above the Silverwater Cafe.

The CoLab is seeking members in both locations, and membership can be shared in Chimacum and PT, said Frank DePalma of The CoLab.

The Farmhouse CoLab adds to the spirit of unity and collaboration at the historic Brown Dairy, said Kisler. She co-owns Finnriver Farm & Cidery, which has a 30-year lease on the 50-acre Brown Dairy property, which is protected in perpetuity by Jefferson Land Trust. Finnriver plans to move its public events to the Brown Dairy as soon as possible, as well as its cider production. The farmhouse, at 9165 Rhody Drive, is accessible by a driveway just south of the East Jefferson Fire Rescue station in Chimacum.

There is a 5-acre building envelope, Kisler said. The other 45 acres are for agriculture. Finnriver is growing fruit trees and is working with researchers from Washington State University and the Organic Seed Alliance to test varieties of grain to find which grow best in our climate. North Olympic Salmon Coalition is building a riparian plant nursery there, too.

The Farmhouse CoLab has about 10 workspaces, said DePalma. There is also a spacious kitchen with a sunny nook, a large, comfortable conference room, and a sitting room with a player piano.

The farmhouse is “a hub and a showcase for all the great things happening in community agriculture,” Kisler told the assembled group on July 2, which included representatives from Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, Chimacum Grange, Jefferson Land Trust and other groups.

One office is occupied by Heidi Eisenhour, who works for American Farmland Trust (AFT) as director of its three-state Pacific Northwest region. Founded in 1980, AFT saves farmland through advocacy for agriculture and the environment, conservation easements and keeping farmers on the land. The average age of farmers is 59, Eisenhour said, and a transition for farmland is coming. Farmland, which is often flat, is desirable for developers, she said. AFT produces the ubiquitous “No Farms, No Food” bumper stickers, summing up one reason why AFT works to save farmland as such.

Betsy Davis, director of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in nearby Port Hadlock, said she used to have an office at WeWork, a coworking space in Seattle’s South Lake Union area, but gave it up in favor of an office at the Brown Dairy farmhouse. In spite of the vast difference between the bustling city atmosphere and the peaceful farmland, she feels the same “creative spark” and “entrepreneurial energy” in both places, Davis said.

For more information, call 385-9655, email or visit