In May 2022, Lopez Community Land Trust (LCLT), on Lopez Island, in San Juan County, Washington, and farmers Lena and Andrew Jones signed an agricultural ground lease for the 42-acre Lopez Sound Farm and Forest Preserve.
The Lopez Sound Farm and Forest Preserve is the second property acquired under LCLT’s Lopez Island Farm Trust (LIFT) program, established “to hold farmland in trust to support a resilient local food system [and] a healthy local economy and provide a community place to gather and learn.” After purchasing 118 acres of farm and forest land in 2020, LCLT sold 75 acres of forest to the San Juan County Conservation Land Bank, expanding an existing preserve, and put out a request for proposals for farmers to lease the remaining agricultural portion.
After reviewing all the proposals, LCLT selected Andrew and Lena, operating as Still Light Farm, LLC, as the lessee farmers. Their plans include planting perennial fruit and nut trees as well as annual crops such as oats, beans, and other seeds, using regenerative agriculture, agroforestry, and permaculture practices.
In late 2021, LCLT and the Joneses sought Equity Trust’s assistance drafting the ground lease. Over the next six months, while Andrew and Lena got to know the land and began planning their farm, we worked with them and LCLT staff to draft a lease.
The two processes have a lot in common, requiring long-term vision and the consideration of many interlocking elements. While the Joneses drew up a site plan of buildings, fields, fences, waterways, orchards, and habitat strips, and cleared the property, including an old barn site overgrown with blackberries where they plan to build a new barn, we collectively put together a lease that reflects both parties shared goals for the farm and establishes the terms for managing their relationship for decades to come. In May, 2022, they signed the 99-year lease, officially launching a long-term relationship between LCLT and Still Light Farm designed to “support a resilient local food system that contributes to a healthy local economy and provides a community place to gather and learn.”