Conservancy honors long-time Arlington farmers

EVERETT — Hank and Betty Graafstra — longtime Arlington dairy farmers — were recently recognized for their efforts in nature conservancy.

The Cascade Land Conservancy’s Snohomish County Conservation Awards luncheon took place Sept. 24, and the Graafstras received the Phil and Laura Zelesky Lifetime Achievement Award.

The award each year honors long-term commitment to conservation and “the enhancement of the quality of life for Snohomish County residents,” according to organizers.

The Graafstras operated Country Charm Dairy in northeast Arlington for more than 50 years before retiring about three years ago.

Since then, the city of Arlington has been working with the family to provide wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities on the former farmland, said Bill Blake, natural resource manager for the city.

“Hank would always be available for other farmers to help,” Blake said.

More than 400 people attended the luncheon, which raised more than $50,000 to further the work of the conservancy.

The Seattle-based conservancy organization’s goal is to protect more than 1 million acres of forests, farmland, shorelines, natural areas and parks, according to its Web site.

The luncheon has been held biennially since 1999.

Other awards handed out included the Cascade Agenda Leadership Award, the Community Service Award and the Innovations in Conservancy Award.

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