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Mortgage paid, Brickworks now debt free
— below is a press release submitted by SJI Agricultural Guild
It is with deep gratitude that the San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild announces that it has achieved its major goal of paying off the remaining mortgage on its downtown Friday Harbor Brickworks property.
Reaching this goal was the culmination of a long journey that followed the initial purchase of the property in late 2010, with a Washington state grant of $365,000 and a federal USDA grant of $100,000, joining some $228,000 in private donations.
The Ag Guild then embarked on a major community-wide fundraising effort to support the dream of completely repurposing the property as a permanent home for the San Juan Islands Farmers Market. Over subsequent years that dream, which became the Brickworks Project, increasingly captured the imagination of the community as a whole.
"What we came to experience was an amazing blending of community-wide passion, persistence, generosity and commitment,” said Susie Wampler, Ag Guild Board chair. “Though the odds initially seemed daunting, we strongly believed in the worthiness of the cause. We believed that if we built it, they would come. And come they did, with donations ranging from $5 to over $100,000 added to over 35,000 hours of volunteer time and the gift of many talents.”
In the spring of 2013, a $100,000 matching-grant challenge by the Town of Friday Harbor was rapidly met by further generous donations from private individuals and foundations. In June 2013, the grand opening of the renovated building cemented the worthiness of the project, with Brickworks quickly becoming not only a successful farmers market and art market home, but also a venue of choice for meetings, presentations, concerts, educational events, and both private and public celebrations.
A final fundraising push in the spring of 2014 brought in several additional major private community member donations and a significant matching grant challenge from the San Juan Island Community Foundation, which took the funding drive over the top.
In all, over $1 million in private funding was raised to complement the federal, state and town grants, allowing the Ag Guild to fully renovate and repurpose the building, develop the plaza, add a community kitchen, pay off the mortgage, and then some.
“This multi-year public-private partnership has allowed us to achieve not only our original dream, but also to proceed with further outfitting of the building to make it suitable for an even wider range of events” said Wampler. “We are planning several events over the coming months to express our gratitude in person and to celebrate with the community.”
The San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild is an all-volunteer 501(c)3 organization dedicated to fostering a vibrant, resilient and sustainable local agriculture and food system in San Juan County, Washington.