Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony Farm
Restoring a Unique Cultural Heritage Site
Wakamatsu Farm Vision Statement:
“Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony Farm integrates cultural and historical interpretation, sustainable agricultural practices, restoration and maintenance of natural resources, and educational and recreational opportunities.”
Photo Credit: Wesley Everhart
It is rare to find a farm which can boast a richer tapestry of wildlife habitat, diverse cultural history, productive farming soils, and educational opportunities than the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony Farm. The 272-acre site contains an 8-acre lake, 3 ponds, wetlands and the headwaters of Granite and Shingle Creeks which flow into the South Fork American River near Lotus. The property provides valuable habitat for native wildlife. Oak woodlands are separated by a broad band of excellent farming soil considered “prime” and of “statewide importance” by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).
In addition to ongoing habitat restoration, the Conservancy has brought agriculture back to this historic site. With the help of South Fork Farm and more recently, Free Hand Farm, farming is once again a focus at the site. Other partners include El Dorado County 4-H and Gold Trail School. In 2013, independently-owned South Fork Farm began offering sustainably grown produce and other goods through their farm stand and CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture), which is headquartered on 10 acres at the Wakamatsu Colony Farm. Starting in 2015, family-owned Free Hand Farm began offering pastured dairy herdshares, pastured lamb and wool products and pastured eggs from happy animals living on the farm. Both farm businesses lease land and buildings from the American River Conservancy and contribute to the overall health and maintenance of the site. Please support these local farmers!
Preserving and interpreting the cultural resources that still remain - Charles Graner's original 1854 farmhouse, Okei San's gravesite, and turn-of-the-century Veerkamp barn and dairy are also a part of continuing the agricultural legacy of the site. The National Park Service has placed the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony Farm on the National Register of Historic Places at a level of "National Significance". Stabilization of the original 1854 farmhouse was completed in 2011 thanks to a generous grant from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment (a program of the California State Library). Funding support from Tourism Cares, REI, The Natural Resources Agency, the California Conservation Corps and several other supporters has made additional improvements possible.
The American River Conservancy will continue to develop infrastructure and restore historic buildings that promote our vision for the Wakamatsu Colony Farm. We need your help to make this happen. We have many opportunities for volunteers and the general public to get involved. Donate to the project today!
What you can do?
Become a Wakamatsu Docent