The Land Bank is proceeding with its efforts to take the next step in managing the farm and we wanted to keep you apprised of where things stand. Coffelt Farm Stewards has wound down operations and all animals have been relocated to other farms. We do want to take this opportunity to thank the Board and staff of CFS, particularly in these last few months, for their dedication to the farm and professionalism under difficult circumstances.
Moving forward, we are envisioning a multi-step process as follows:
- In an effort to retain some agricultural activity in the short term, the Land Bank will issue a request for proposals (RFP) for interim management immediately. The term of this short-term lease will be July 1, 2019 to late December 1, 2020.
- Simultaneously, Land Bank staff will identify and prioritize critical infrastructure needs, such as water and electrical system repair; work with the San Juan Islands Conservation District on cost-share infrastructure projects (manure management areas, cross fencing, etc.), continue with the no-till pasture trial, and look at putting down soil amendments (i.e., lime, phosphorus, potassium). This work will likely continue through 2020.
- Staff will also draft a preserve management plan for the property. The plan will stress our resource protection goals and establish parameters within which any future farming operation would operate. For example, improving and maintaining a healthy soil ecology could be one goal with specific criteria stated. The plan will also consider options for public access. A draft of the plan will be ready for public comment by fall of 2019. The plan should be finalized by the start of 2020.
- Lastly, the Land Bank will convene a Coffelt Farm assessment and lease committee, including agricultural resource professionals, Land Bank representatives, and farmers, to move forward with setting agricultural goals for the property, and develop lease plans. The committee should have its first meeting in June, and we anticipate its concluding with a lessee selected by December 2020.
The Land Bank Commission will be discussing Coffelt Farm further at its next meeting, June 21st at the Fire Hall in Eastsound. The meeting starts at 8:15. All are welcome.