On May 9, Bob and Cathy Clemens sold their 48 acre farm to Lopez Community Land Trust (LCLT) to ensure that it be forever farmed as part of the local food security system for Lopez Island, WA. With the cultural landscape of Lopez changing, every farm preserved for farming is a step towards renewal of our agricultural landscape. Thanks to the generosity of dozens of donors, who understand the value of local food production and soil health, Stonecrest is now preserved as a farm for the future. LCLT has three years to pay off the remaining note of $350,000.
Farming is more than food security for Lopez. Farming represents values that Lopez has cherished over the years, from community barn raisings, harvest celebrations, shared skills and resources, to stories of ‘greenhorns’ over meals of local food. Visitors and locals love the rural landscape of Lopez. You often see visitors stopping their vehicles to take photos of round hay bales defining a field, capturing baby calves or lambs romping in another field, or shopping at the farm stands. According to John Rebanks in The Shepherd’s Life, “Farming is more than the effect on the landscape: it sustains the local food industry, supports tourism, and gives people an income in places that might otherwise be abandoned.”
Local farmers are keeping Stonecrest Farm vital during this transition time. In April 2017 the new farmers Meike Meissner and Mike McMahon will manage the farm. In the interim Norfeld Farm has growing barley for feed, malting barley, and cara cara wheat. Lucky Ewe Farm is rotationally grazing sheep on Stonecrest’s pastures and former intern Laney Seigner grew veggies and flowers over the summer to supply the Farm Stand. It truly takes a village, in fact, a community to protect the cultural landscape that we value.
Lopez Community Land Trust has had a dream of preserving working farms since visiting such an effort in Vermont in 1992. “Finally we have a dream come true,” stated 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.”
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, and are responsible for the new blue roof on the original barn that still stands. This is a great community effort to keep the cultural landscape intact.