Watching Diane Garmo and Kathie Hagwell pruning rhododendrons and pulling weeds on their 40-acre property just east of Bellingham you can see the connection they feel to this piece of land. The history of this property is both solemn and inspiring, providing context to the specialness of this place.
In 1888 the United States government was actively taking land from the native peoples in Whatcom County and granting quarter sections to European settlers looking to call this place home. One of those homesteaders was Diane Garmo’s great grandfather who received a 160-acre plot from the Federal Government. He had four daughters and decided that when he passed away he would split the land into four separate plots, one for each of his daughters. Each plot was divided to be long and narrow, allowing for each daughter to have access to Smith Road. Garmo’s grandmother then passed her 40-acre plot down to her son, George Garmo, Diane’s father.
From an early age Diane’s father taught her a stewardship ethic for which she has been forever grateful. He taught her not to cut down trees unless they were dying or too crowded allowing remaining trees to thrive. George taught the importance of cherishing the land, letting it be natural and free, and most importantly, he taught the importance of giving back to the community.
When Diane inherited the property from her parents she contacted Whatcom Land Trust to set up what is often called a Legacy Gift, donating her property to the Land Trust when she passes or can no longer care for it. She made plans in her will so that one day this special property and the values she learned through it will be passed on to future generations here in Whatcom County. Diane and Kathie have been educators for their entire careers and wanted to see the property utilized for providing outdoor educational opportunities for youth. Whatcom Land Trust worked to ensure Diane could see this during her lifetime.
Whatcom Land Trust has partnered with Wild Whatcom to bring their Girls and Boys Explorers Club out to visit the homestead. Students travel out to the property on their early release days to spend time outside learning both naturalist and life skills. Diane has been able to participate in multiple of these outings, witnessing how the Land Trust will continue her legacy for outdoor education and stewardship.
This gift is a priceless investment in the future of Whatcom County and Whatcom Land Trust is so excited to help fulfill Diane and her father’s wishes for their property- fostering a sense of stewardship and connection in the next generations of Whatcom County residents. Thank you Diane and Kathie, we are forever grateful for your gift which is already creating a powerful legacy.