Historic Stonecrest Farm—A Lopez Legacy for 2017
Notice: the Request for Proposals (RFP) for Leasee is available here: http://www.lopezclt.org/news/
Be a part of purchasing Stonecrest Farm, – a 46 acre historic working farm. Bob and Cathy Clemens, the current owners are in their 80’s and would like to live out the rest of their lives on the farm through a Life Estate but they can no longer work the land. There is a one-bedroom guesthouse on the property and a bunkhouse so a farm manager and some workers would have a place to live. LCLT signed a P&S agreement with the Clemens in 2016 and take possession of the farm in February 2017. LCLT is raising $1,000,000 to purchase Stonecrest Farm and approximately $385,000 remains to be raised over the next 3 years.
LCLT has begun the Lopez Island Farm Trust (LIFT) project. We see this endeavor as a legacy for Lopez Island, and a boost to beginning farmers who want to work hard and yet don’t have resources to purchase land and equipment. The mission of LIFT is to hold farmland in trust to support a perpetual, affordable and regenerative local food system on Lopez Island. The first effort to hold farmland in trust is the purchase of Stonecrest Farm. LIFT is a way to assure more local food production on Lopez for generations to come.
Land is an essential element of farming. After a century of significant farmland loss throughout the San Juan Islands (USDA census records show a 27% loss from 2007 – 2012), access to affordable, productive farmland is one of the greatest challenges that our region’s farmers face. The U.S. loses farmland at a rate of 2 acres/minute, over 240 million acres since 1970. The average age of a farmer in San Juan County is 62. Who will farm? The majority of farmers in the County today have no plan for transferring their farm operation to the next generation, and for many, the value of their farmland as real estate is one of their greatest assets and a necessary part of their retirement plan. Farmland in San Juan County is indeed being preserved but not actively farmed. Repeated haying of preserved land doesn’t increase soil health and fertility, and offers little variety for our table.
How will we train new farmers and where will farming happen? With the disruption of climate where drought has caused parts of central California to be incapable of food production (564,000 acres of agricultural land is predicted to be idled in the Central Valley of California alone due to drought), with more and more food produced with GMO’s, pesticides, and unnatural processing, with local ferry service that is unreliable in emergencies and remote rural areas as the last to be served in any crisis, how will Lopez feed itself? How can our children access healthy food? How will our community assure that new farmers are trained and supported? Finally, with some of the basic farming infrastructure of these islands missing or in disarray, how can we garner the necessary infrastructure for food security?
Full-time residents on Lopez Island will purchase an estimated $9.4 million worth of food this year. Additionally, restaurants will purchase an estimated $1 million worth of food. Therefore, the total value of food consumption on Lopez Island is estimated at $10.4 million. A significant chunk of these dollars would go far in our local economy if they were staying with local farm.
Make history with a lasting legacy by ensuring that our farms are farmed, that our precious farmland stays farmland – forever.
- Strengthen our local food system, ecological diversity and access to local foods;
- Develop a comprehensive legal, ethical and economically viable land lease system;
- Provide affordable access to land and infrastructure for farmers;
- Implement sound business practices for regenerative income to support the farms and farmers;
- Develop farm programs for beginning farmers and others in search of life skills;
- Provide educational opportunities;
- Cultivate systems that encourage multi-generational living on the land and affordable housing;
- Generate sources of local food and farm products by acquiring, leasing and managing new & historical farms; and
- Retain and invigorate the working rural character of Lopez Island through ethical practices that build soil.