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Originally published Friday, July 12, 2013 at 10:15 AM

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The Mukai Farm and Garden, ca. 1926

The historic Mukai Farm and Garden on Vashon island is now the focus of a dispute between the current ownership group and a citizens' group decrying the property's neglect.

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ON JUNE 1, about 200 enthusiasts gathered beside — but not on — Vashon Island's landmark Mukai Farm and Garden for a "This Place Matters" celebration. It turned out that the crowd wasn't just celebrating: It was protesting against the current owners, alleging that they have neglected the historic property.

The enterprising Mukai family built this home in 1926 and began the artful labor of fitting the grounds with an elegant Japanese landscape — winding waterways about carefully set rocks, appointed with appropriate plants. The garden was supported by the success of B.D. Mukai's strawberries. His nearby cold-pressing process packed the iced berries in barrels of his own making for shipment to distant markets. It was an enterprise that in season hired 400 to 500 workers.

B.D.'s second wife, Kuni, designed the garden and continued to develop and nurture it from the late 1920s until World War II, which on the West Coast upset the lives of nearly everyone of Japanese descent, including the Mukais.

Jean Sherrard was surprised by the "now" scene he encountered at the farm. "I arrived at the Mukai farm to find several hundred people assembling on a country road that runs in front of the farm. A black plastic fence posted with 'No Trespassing' signs and two sheriffs' squad cars kept preservationists off the land, squeezed onto the pavement."

What's all the fuss about?

For the protesters' view, go to the Friends of Mukai webpage at the owners' side, visit

For a KOMO-TV report on the dispute, go to

Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard's blog at

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