County’s Conservation Land Bank moves forward with long-term agricultural leases on SJI preserves

Submitted by San Juan County

In Fall of 2023 the Land Bank put out a public request for long-term agricultural lease proposals for farmland portions of two San Juan Island preserves: Frazer Homestead and Beaverton Marsh. Several strong proposals were received. Following much deliberation, the Land Bank has selected a prospective lessee for each property. The Land Bank is excited to develop these relationships that will help steward our conserved working lands into the future, building a more resilient local food system.

For the Frazer Homestead Preserve, the Shephard family has been chosen for a long-term grazing lease. Their vision for the Frazer Homestead Preserve is to have a sustainable livestock operation on the property which builds soil and ecosystem health, collaborates with Land Bank and other users and neighbors, and produces delicious affordable lamb and beef for sale in the San Juan Islands.

For Beaverton Marsh Preserve, the San Juan Island Grange has been selected for the Overmarsh Farm Commons (OFC) project for a long-term lease up to 20 years. OFC is a cooperative enterprise where San Juan Islanders work and learn together to grow food on shared land, guided by regenerative agriculture principles. There will be opportunities for irrigated crops and perennials as well as dryland farming, grazing, and haying. Infrastructure will be improved and developed to support a diversity of farming activities as the project develops and grows. For more information visit the San Juan Island Grange website at or email

While formal lease agreements are being negotiated and finalized, prospective lessees have access to begin using and improving the lease areas. At Beaverton, the Grange will begin mowing and tarping approximately ¼ acre for future irrigated crops and collaborating with Land Bank on fencing and water systems, and access improvements. At Frazer, the Shephard’s will begin rotationally grazing small herd of cattle, while planning for improvements. Both operations will be participating in the Voluntary Stewardship Program by developing and implementing an Individual Stewardship Plan (Farm Plan) with the San Juan Islands Conservation District.