Contributed photo

Update on Coffelt Farm from the SJC Land Bank

  • Tue Jun 15th, 2021 1:30am
  • Life

Submitted by San Juan County Land Bank.

As we enter another phase in planning the future of Coffelt Farm Preserve’s agricultural use, the San Juan County Land Bank offers this community update.

The Conservation Ag Resource Team (CART) submitted its final Coffelt Farm report in April to the Land Bank Commission. View the report at sjclandbank.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Coffelt-CART-Report-April-2021.pdf. This was followed by LBC and CART discussions and Q&A sessions at the April and May LBC Meetings. For more information, visit sjclandbank.org/about/agendas-minutes. Although this concludes CART’s formal involvement, many members have offered continued support if needed.

Among CART’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 the Preserve and 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 LBC 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(s) 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 RFP 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 CART 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.