Lopez looks forward to harvest celebrations, fall markets, Thanksgiving feasts, local farm tours, and the Lopez Community Land Trust Harvest Dinner. This year’s Harvest Dinner is celebrating local farms and farmers, and highlighting the state of farming in the islands.
Lopez Island is vulnerable to losing the last of its farms to estates. According to the Oct. 4 edition of Mansion Global, the San Juan Islands have topped Realtor.com’s list of the 20 biggest movers in its Luxury Home Index. It’s based on the top 10 percent of sales by price and covers 277 counties across the U.S. San Juan County jumped 52 places in a year, moving from 107th last year to 55th place this year for luxury homes. With the loss of farms, Lopez would lose its rural character as well as its food security.
The average age of a farmer in San Juan County is 61 years old, and according to the USDA census records, there has been a 27 percent loss of farmland form 2007–2012. New farmers need the support of the community to continue farming here. LCLT is forming Lopez Island Farm Trust to hold farms in trust in perpetuity, and leasing them to succession farmers. Bob and Cathy Clemens have stated that they want Stonecrest Farm to remain a working farm, and have asked LCLT to purchase it from them at a reduced price. Bob has turned 80 and the farm is their retirement. With no children interested in farming, they hope the community wants to keep Stonecrest a working farm.
Local farms also attract young people as interns through LCLT. Life skills are in demand, not only by aspiring young farmers and gardeners, but by residents moving to Lopez who want to join in the bounty of harvest time, whether preserving foods or preparing a meal of local foods. The LIFT program plans to provide learning opportunities in rural life skills and sharing in the harvest bounty.
At this year’s Harvest Dinner two inspiring movie shorts will be shown that bring home the importance of farmland to a community. The new book release Bounty will be available for sale at the dinner. Bounty features 28 Lopez farms, complete with recipes. The Harvest Dinner begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22. Prizes are awarded for best use of local foods, and best presentation of local foods. Some locals have described this potluck of local foods as “the world’s best potluck.” Additionally there will be Lopez Island Vineyards no-host wine bar and a silent auction. Everyone is welcome, and asked to bring their own table settings to support zero waste. For further information, call LCLT at 468-3723.