Lopez Island Farm Trust (LIFT)

Lopez Community Land Trust (LCLT) was founded in 1989 with the expressed goal of building a diverse, sustainable island community. A key purpose of the organization is to acquire and hold land in trust in order to provide permanent access to land for quality affordable housing, sustainable agriculture, forestry, cottage industries and cooperatives, while developing and exercising responsible ecological practices.

In 2016 LCLT formed a program called Lopez Island Farm Trust (LIFT). Lopez Island is known for its scenic, rural, pastoral vistas and strong sense of community. The average age of a farmer here is 61 years, and ensuring succession farming through affordable access to farms and training of young farmers is critical. LCLT’s goal is to hold farmland in trust to support a resilient local food system that contributes to a healthy local economy and provides a community place to gather and learn.

On May 9, 2017, Bob and Cathy Clemens sold their 48 acre farm to Lopez Community Land Trust (LCLT) under the LIFT program to ensure that it be forever farmed as part of the local food security system for Lopez Island. Stonecrest Farm was founded in 1989 when Chris Jensen jumped ship from Norway and settled on Lopez Island. In 1902 the iconic barn on the farm was built, and for 105 years, Chris’s extended family, including Otto and Donna Kjargaard, farmed the land. Cathy and Bob purchased the farm in 1989, the same year LCLT was formed.

“Lopez Community Land Trust has had a dream of preserving working farms since we visited such an effort in Vermont in 1992. Finally we have a dream come true,” states Executive Director Sandy Bishop. “After a century of significant farmland loss throughout the San Juan Islands, access to affordable, productive farmland is one of the greatest challenges that our island farmers face. A community land trust can provide that access.”

On May 19, 2020, Lopez Community Land Trust purchased its second farm, the Lopez Sound Farm and Forest Preserve, the 117.74 acre farm/forest parcel on Lopez Sound Road across from S & S Homestead Farm. LCLT drafted a new Farm Plan and hired Rain Shadow Consulting to write a new Forest Plan. Both plans were approved by the SJC assessor’s office and the land is now in Current Use with the exception of a one-acre building circle. Currently a family has a 2-year lease on the 21.477 acres of pasture until a formal Request for Proposals, and underlying infrastructure, such as septic, certified potable water source, and an overall plan for the siting of future housing, outbuildings, trails, etc., is complete.

LIFT GOALS:

  • 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.