I am writing this letter to beg the San Juan County Land Bank to invest the funds necessary to save the agricultural institution that is Coffelt Farm. Only with the land bank’s help can we rebuild Coffelt Farm and help it be what it’s meant to be: a self-sustaining, nonprofit farm that is dedicated to giving a new generation of farmers on the ground experience.
I spent my first year on Orcas Island as a farmhand at Coffelt Farm. During this year, I learned more about livestock and dairy farming than I could have in a classroom. Six days a week, I was milking cows by 5:45 a.m. The rest of the day I spent doing various tasks: learning how to build and repair fencing, moving animals, feeding animals, collecting eggs, helping to shear sheep, haying, raking, bailing, lambing, farrowing, calving. The list goes on. It was an incredible learning experience, indelible in my growth, that I hope exists for greenhorn farmers forever!
One of the most challenging aspects of the farm was the trailer that I was offered to live in. It was infested with rats and mice, and the stench of rodent urine was palpable. There was no dry place to disrobe outside in the winter, no shower (I was offered Sidney Coffelt’s shower in her house) or real toilet (I was offered a port-a-potty). I had a single burner and a fridge that didn’t work. Two years later, nothing has changed. The land bank’s investment would ensure that farmhands had a safe, livable space to rest and eat in between long farm days. We all know that there is a low-income housing shortage on Orcas Island, so on-site employee housing is crucial to ensuring that the farm can hire and keep farmhands.
Investment in the farm would also help rebuild the crumbling infrastructure with a focus on future revenue and community outreach (i.e., a commercial kitchen). Please invest in Coffelt Farm before purchasing more land. Who will you buy your meat, eggs and milk from?
Farm Manager OrcaSong Farm