Friends of Mukai
Friends of Mukai is a Vashon Island based non-profit organization dedicated to operation of the Mukai Farm & Garden. Since 2012, FoM has worked to secure and preserve the Mukai house, garden, and fruit barreling plant—all constructed almost 90 years ago.
As stewards of the historic Mukai Farm & Garden, FoM works to interpret and celebrate the following themes:
– The history of Mukai Farm, including the land, the structures, the people who shaped it, and the family’s prominent role in the island community
– Island Agriculture including the evolution and impact of strawberry farming and other forms of pre-World War II agriculture on Vashon Island
– Gardening in the Japanese tradition, with a focus on Kuni Mukai’s garden and its stylistic relationship to gardens in the Pacific Northwest
– Japanese American Presence on Vashon and the region including the experiences, contributions and culture of Japanese immigrants and their descendants including post-war Nikkei-Americans
– Social Justice and Human Rights, with a special focus on past and present day issues related to immigrants of ALL origins to the United States
FoM has assembled funding for capital improvements to the Mukai house and Japanese garden, thanks to our amazing public partners. We expect to finish restoration of these soon. Already, the house and garden are open to the public with featured events, parties, picnics, workshops, and general garden strolls.
We are in the process of raising restoration funds for the fruit barreling plant. We have secured phase one funds, and are in the process of stabilizing the building and beginning a tenant selection process. We will look to establishing a capital campaign in 2021 to begin phase two.
Friends of Mukai
2019-2020 Board members
Bottom row, left to right: Rita Brogan (President), Meg Nelson (Secretary), Kay Longhi (Treasurer), Nancy Wolff, Steve Brown
Top row: Tina Shattuck, Stephen Jeong, Mary Rabourn (Vice President), Mary Bergman, J. F. Mannina, Dan Connolly
Not shown: Joe Okimoto
2021 - 2022 Board Bio's
Tom Alderson has been a Vashon resident for nearly 40 years. In 2020 he retired from a career in the maritime industry, having owned and managed a business, Emerald Maritime, that I started 30 years ago for shipping Washington apples and other fruits and vegetables to many countries worldwide. He has been a member of FoM since its inception and joined the Fruit Barreling Plant committee in 2019, partly because of the connection between the plant’s historic function and his career exporting fruit.
Rita Brogan is a communications professional with deep ties to Seattle’s Asian Pacific community. She currently serves as President of the Mukai Farm & Garden Board of Directors. She is a former board member of SCIDPDA, ACRS and US Japan Council. Born in Japan, she is an avid reader, gardener and food enthusiast.
Darin Brown is one of the few marketing veterans that has spent equal time in traditional advertising and pure-play digital. Darin was also an early believer in digital and, in 1995, created Leo Burnett Interactive. Over the last two decades he led several advertising and digital agencies in Europe and recently moved to Vashon Island where he is spending more time as an angel investor, consultant and entrepreneur.
Ayumi Nakada Luke’s passion is in U.S.-Japan relations. She was born in a small town near Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan and is married to a retired U.S. diplomat. She served as a reporter/editor for an English language publication in Japan and later served as a teacher to bilingual students in both the U.S. and Japan. She is currently working to promote international educational travel from Japan to the U.S. through her company, Vashon Island Homestays.
Frederick Stimson Harriman
Fred Harriman lives with his wife Takayo in Burton on Vashon Island. He is a professional interpreter of Japanese and Spanish. Fred and Takayo and their two daughters lived in the city of Hamamatsu in Japan during the 70s, 80s, and 90s. He currently serves as the Chair of the Education and Research Committee of Friends of Mukai.
Michal J. Kleer
Mike Kleer is a retired landscape architect and a certified ESL instructor. He currently runs a non-profit foundation which funds education and humanitarian efforts for Burmese refugees living in Northern Thailand. He is active with the WSU Master Gardener program and spends an inordinate amount of time tending his own extensive garden.
Jean-François Mannina serves as FOM’s Treasurer. J-F has worked in a number of leadership roles for insurance companies based in the Seattle area. J-F has lived and worked in Japan and has served on other boards that support both Japanese-American relations as well as second, third and fourth generation Japanese-Americans. J-F’s focus for FOM is to build a sound financial footing to grow and sustain the cultural and educational programs that its members and the public can enjoy.
Brit Meyers is a Project Manager with the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States where she works to build and strengthen community connections between large networks of interdisciplinary researchers, Indigenous knowledge holders, policymakers, funders, and the broader public. Brit has been involved in the development and capacity building of regional non-profits in a number of previous roles. She lives with her husband Don on Vashon Island’s Judd Creek estuary, adjacent to the former Kaguni family loganberry farm site.
Mukai’s Board Secretary, Meg Nelson is a native Seattleite who has lived on Vashon Island for the past 5 years. Meg is an archaeologist with research interests in prehistoric hunter-gatherer land use. She has completed many archaeological surveys, excavations, and considers herself lucky to be paid to be outside, at least when the weather is good.
Renée is a Vashon resident, architect, King County Master Gardener, and recently transitioned to full time potter. Early in her career she worked on numerous historic projects, sat on the City of Seattle Historic Preservation Board. She brings her unique skill set and enthusiasm for design, art/craft, and heritage to the Mukai board.
Mary Rabourn serves as board vice-president. Born in Japan, she works on communications and cross-cultural outreach for King County’s Department of Natural Resources. She co-chairs the Programs Committee.
Nancy Wolff lives on Vashon Island with her husband, Len Wolff. She has a son, daughter in law and granddaughter who live nearby in Tacoma. Nancy Wolff is currently a Real Estate Broker with John L Scott on Vashon Island. She has a background in Healthcare Management, operations and direct patient care.
Paula Onadera Wong
Paula Onodera Wong is a Seattle-born Sansei with a keen interest in the Asian American experience. A descendant of Tule Lake and Minidoka survivors, she has worked on projects for Densho, Wing Luke Asian Museum, Vashon Heritage Museum and Mukai Farm & Garden. After a fulfilling career as a creative director, she now pursues ceramic arts and actively supports the empowerment of marginalized communities.