Sports

Howe farm gets a new leash on life

In a world where everything costs money, the Port Orchard community has a priceless gem right in the heart of town.

Howe Farm, an 83-acre property on Long Lake Road, has quickly grown into a dog walkers’ heaven. Kitsap County bought the property in 1996 and discussions on the future of the land have persisted.

Most of the discussions have centered around the status of the farm’s barn, which can be seen off of Mile Hill Drive. The majestic beauty of the farmland itself currently remains preserved — other than a convenient gravel parking lot at the entrance — which is great news for dog lovers.

Dorothy Dueber has been bringing her dogs Lilly and Louie to the farm for the past few months. Like most dog owners, she found out about the place through word of mouth.

“I really enjoy it,” Dueber said. “The dogs can run loose and there’s no road for them to run on.”

Dueber loves the farm so much she brings her dogs seven days a week, though she waits until the sun starts to set.

“The dogs expect it because it’s routine now,” she said. “I don’t take them in the morning because they still expect to go in the evening.”

The vast landscape provides a running mecca for big dogs who may not have the space to run wild at home. Dueber, whose dogs are small, said she’s never had a problem with other dogs.

“I’ve never had any problems with bigger dogs, but my dogs get a little intimidated,” she said. “The dogs are usually pretty friendly...sometimes too friendly.”

A wetlands area also allows for dogs to cool off — or play — in the water.

Dueber said she’s appreciative of the land made available to the public at no cost.

“Earlier, I would take my dogs to Manchester Park,” she said. “But you have to pay $5 for parking and you have to have your dog on a leash. Also, it’s so busy with campers this time of year.”

And with 83 acres to spare, there’s enough space at Howe Farm for all the dogs to run around and play. And, it allows for a good night’s sleep.

“My dogs sleep better at night,” Dueber said. “At least I think they do.”

As for the future of the land, county officials have said plans are to preserve the habitat and wetlands areas within it.

In one proposed plan, trails are minimal, most of the existing hay meadows are left intact and the wetlands are kept in their natural state.

However, the plan did include several preferred community activities including demonstration fruit and vegetable plots, a possible seasonal farmer’s market and even sufficient space for small festivals or jamborees.

The hay fields would also be planted and harvested seasonally, as was done on the original farm.

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