In addition to his hammer, Tom Clark is picking up a plow.
Tom is a fifth-generation descendent in two families with roots in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley and he's going to be continuing those families' legacies - farming.
Tom's great-great-uncle started the Clark Farm in 1855 at what is now the intersection of Clark and Anderson roads. His father, Bob Clark, is passing the farming operations over to him this winter.
Bob showed a slight smile when he spoke of keeping farming in the family, hinting at his pride and satisfaction.
As he discussed his family's history on the farm, he gestured at different heirlooms and old photographs while sitting at a table with his son.
"We have a long history here. In fact, this farm is the oldest continually-owned family farm in the state, which says a lot," Bob said nodding. "We wouldn't have known except the state got it wrong when planning for a centennial celebration book and wrote us a letter of apology, stating we were the oldest. It was quite the surprise."
Tom will take over operations Jan. 1, 2009. Bob received the farm from his father, Elliot King Clark Sr., who received it from his uncle James Clark.
James Clark's mother, Elsie Clark, gave him the farm after she received it from her brother William King, who homesteaded and began farming the land in 1855.
"I'm really happy to see Tom interested in not only the farm, but farming its land," Bob said. "I swear this property will not be filled with new homes anytime soon."
He said he wasn't necessarily upset with Sequim's growth but indicated that farming is part of the North Olympic Peninsula's culture and that it shouldn't be forgotten while making room for transplants.
After all, his son has been busy on some of those buildings with his construction business, something he likely will continue to do while starting out as a farmer.
"When I grew up on this farm decades ago, I could look out the window and see seven lights of the seven farms that were in operation at the time," Bob said. "Now when I look out the window I only see our farm and lots and lots of lights."
Tom went on to describe the difficulties a farmer faces. He said concentrating on the crops is important, adding that in an isolated area a farmer might need to look at other forms of income, such as the bed and breakfast his father set up or his own construction business.
He said it's all part of being a farmer, adding that what someone does other than farming defines who they are as a person.
"When my dad has guests over at the bed and breakfast, they not only get a home-style experience with the farmhouse, they get a history lesson of the valley because that's who he is," Tom said, looking at his father as if to cue a story.
"There's always something interesting to know about the community you live in. Look out the window here," Bob said, motioning toward his field. "That is where the original road ran from the county seat in Dungeness to Sequim. Part of it still runs through an edge of the (Olympic) Game Farm. History is so important."
Bob's passion for history does not end at landmarks and family lineage. He also can talk crops going back to what was first planted by his great uncle.
"This land in the Dungeness area is great for farming and livestock, there is still so much potential for food in the valley," Bob said.
"Plus, with the movement toward eating locally, we're really confident that our 115 acres will be more than enough to have a viable operation," Tom added. "I think my first couple of crops will be hay. The hay market is really good right now."
Tom said after he's gotten his feet wet with farming hay, he will look into buying new equipment and exploring other crop ideas.
"I'd also like to get some livestock," Tom said. "I have a degree in natural science and animal science from Washington State Univer-sity, so it's not like I'm going out there without the know-how."
"He grew up on the farm too, so he's returning to something that is in his blood and in his own past," Bob, 73, said. "Farming has been a big part of this family for generations and now that he's 43, Tom has decided to continue the tradition."
Tom's mother, Glenda Clark, was a Dickenson-Cays, who grew up on the Cays farm where The Cedars at Dungeness golf course sits now.
Tom said he's always known he would come back to operate the farm. He has two children, one a 15-year-old young man.
"We sure are going to teach that kid how to buck hay, just like I taught you," Bob said with a laugh.
Tom's older sister already lives in her own home on the farm and his younger sister is looking into moving back as well so Bob is looking forward to having the whole family back on the farm as a new generation tills its fields.
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