Land Bank Update on Leasing Coffelt Farm Preserve on Orcas Island
From San Juan County Land Bank
The San Juan County Land Bank is entering into another phase in planning the future of Coffelt Farm Preserve’s agricultural use.
According to the San Juan Island Preservation Trust, the Preservation Trust and San Juan County Land Bank acquired a 189-acre conservation easement on this historic working farm in Orcas Island’s Crow Valley in 2012. The Preservation Trust’s conservation easement on the property ensures that Coffelt Farm will be conserved and protected as farmland in perpetuity.
The Conservation Agricultural Resource Team submitted its final Coffelt Farm report in April to the Land Bank Commission. This was followed by discussions and Q&A sessions at the April and May land bank meetings with the team and commission.
Among the team’s recommendations is an assessment of existing infrastructure improvement and repair needs and costs by way of a reserve study.
This information will be crucial in developing a long-term financial plan for determining how these costs might factor into a long-term farm lease rate. The Land Bank is preparing to work with an agricultural lands appraisal consultant with the goal of having a reserve study and farm lease rate report in hand by September 2021.
Based on the report and other findings the commissioners will determine how to proceed with a long-term farm lease or leases. As currently envisioned, this will include the formation of a lease committee and the development of a two-phase request for proposals.
We expect to release the initial request for letters of interest in late Fall 2021 and to follow with invitations for full proposals in early Spring 2022. If an applicant is selected, we will develop and negotiate a lease or leases beginning in January 2023.
Based on this timeline, the Land Bank has offered the interim farm lessee, Lum Farm LLC, a lease extension to the end of 2022. This will allow time for the proposal process and any necessary farm operation transitions. Lum Farm LLC has accepted the lease extension and will continue with current production through 2022.
Land Bank staff and commissioners are grateful to the team members for their valuable service throughout this process and to the island community for the thoughtful feedback provided to date.
Although lengthy, the ongoing process will help support informed budget planning, ensuring the Land Bank has the information necessary for informed planning and the preserve continues to provide broad community benefits for years to come. In the meantime, farm operations at the preserve are continuing smoothly under the interim lease.