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 2022 to begin phase two.
2023 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.
|Jade Keala Agua||Jade Keala Agua recently moved to Vashon Island after earning her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California. She also holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration. She currently serves as Chief Learning Officer at the USC Race and Equity Center. She has been involved in leading trips to the Manzanar concentration camp in California and serving as a docent at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles. Her relevant skills include budget planning, coaching, creative problem-solving and strategic planning.|
|Benno Bonkowski||Benno Bonkowski grew up on a Michigan farm where his immigrant family raised fruits and vegetables including strawberries and he learned English. After earning a Master in Public Administration degree, he served in state government policy and management positions. In addition to construction experience, he has served with a number of non-profit organizations, including as Vice President of the Friends of Mukai.|
|Tom Conway||Tom Conway lives in a historic Vashon Island farmhouse. He was once a former VIGA board member, enjoyed hosting a music/talk show on Voice of Vashon radio, and still writes about his farm and community on his blog TallCloverFarm.com. Before focusing on his Vashon farm, Tom worked for Alaska Airlines in customer service and training, and Expedia’s corporate travel division in Marketing communications. Current projects include the continuing renovation of his farmhouse, stewarding his orchard and greenhouse, and running a small cottage Airbnb on his property.|
|Lynn Greiner||Lynn Greiner is an attorney and one of the founders of the Friends of Mukai. She is active in many Vashon organizations and has contributed immensely to the Farm and Garden’s development for over ten years as an active volunteer and former Board Chair. Her primary goal is to support completion of the fruit barreling plant restoration.|
Stan Kitashima is a retired financial advisor and a current business owner of Rainier Vehicle and Vessel Licensing, LLC. He has previously served as a board member with AMBA (Asian Management and Business Association) and Denise Louie Education Center. He is a third generation Japanese American born in Denver, CO and has lived in the Pacific Northwest for over 40 years. He loves working on his yard, camping and fishing.
|Riya Kuo||Riya Kuo is an executive coach to unconventional leaders who know what it’s like to be the “only one” of them in the room. Previously, she spent over a decade as a corporate attorney in big law and big tech. Social justice has been a core value for her since the beginning, and she believes that involvement at the local community level is vital to the greater movement.|
|Meg Nelson||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 Roman||Renée Roman 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, and 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.|
|Kay Longhi||Kay Longhi grew up on Vashon, and is now back on the island after retirement. Her experiences visiting in New England, and living in Alabama gave her a deep appreciation for historic preservation. Kay is past president of Friends of Mukai, and now volunteers to create Mukai programming and facilitate preservation of the fruit barreling plant.|
|Asano Hayama||Asano Hayama and her husband Bart Diener were drawn to Vashon in the midst of the pandemic because of its natural beauty, art scene, sense of community, proximity to Seattle, and, finally, because of Mukai. Inspired by natural beauty, art, community, and Japanese culture, Hayama continues to seek opportunities to connect with the local community and find new friends with common interests. Hayama has loved the experience of getting to know the Friends of Mukai and is excited about getting involved with more Mukai projects and activities in the future. |