News Flash

Agriculture Resource Committee

Posted on: December 27, 2019

2019 ARC Annual Report

2019 ARC Annual Report

The Agricultural Resources Committee (ARC) is robust, engaged and committed. This shows in the quality and quantity of work it has produced over the last year.  

The Comprehensive Plan update has been the main policy theme of 2019.  The ARC worked diligently on recommendations for the Economic Development and Land Use Elements of the Comprehensive Plan.  The policies were crafted from input gathered from farmers, value added producers, retailers, restaurateurs and eaters.  

Through committee representation the ARC fosters collaboration among the various organizations whose work supports agriculture in San Juan County.  Meetings provide a monthly opportunity to update, deepened important conversations and strengthen programs. 

On April 4, 2019, WSU Extension convened the Conservation ofAgricultural Lands Round Table (CART), a round table discussion of local organizations working on agricultural issues and land conservation, with the goal of addressing the challenge of maintaining working agriculture on conservation farm lands (banked, preserved or covered by easements).  The ARC has continued to support this effort.

We have new leadership on the Executive Committee.  Learner Limbach stepped down after serving as chair for 5 years.  Steve Bernheim of Orcas is our new chair and Meike Meisner of Lopez is our new vice chair.  David Kane continues to serve as the Policy Committee chair and Caitlin Herly Lek continues as the Outreach Committee Chair.

2019 Summary of Work and Accomplishments


  • Recruited/onboarded, Meike Meisner and Sam Dillingham both farmers from Lopez Island, Winnie Adams from Orcas and Waldron and from San Juan, Sarah Benson a farmer who also works for the San Juan and Orcas food co ops.  We continue to  maintain 50% farmers.

  • Created a recruitment packet

  • Policy and Outreach Committees met monthly to further ARC projects

Agricultural Regulations and Policies

  • The ARC submitted the following memos: 

    • Recommendations for the Economic Development element of the Comprehensive Plan.  These recommendations were incorporated into the working draft and will be put out for public comment. 

    • The addition of a new Section 2.2.N Agriculture to the Land Use Element of the Comprehensive Plan.  This included a goal and 20 policy statements.

    • The recommendation that San Juan County treat Marijuana Grow operations as a unique activity in our land use tables.

    • The recommendation that the county develop a policy for the stewardship of agricultural conservation lands.

Coordination and Collaboration

  • Convened Agricultural Organizations Retreat on Lopez Island.  

  • Attended the Conservation of Agricultural Lands Round Table (CART) and continue to sit on the CART advisory board for the Land Bank

  • Continue to sit on the Voluntary Stewardship Workgroup

  • Attended the Farmland Preservation Round Table and met with regional leaders

Outreach- Engaging the Farm Community

  • San Juan Island Agricultural Summit: Hosted session on the Comp Plan which was attended by over 40 people

  • Hosted Coffee Hour, County Agricultural Stats table and photo booth at the SJC Fair

  • Attended Farmer to Farmer coffees and/or potlucks on each island

  • Convened listening session on each of the islands in collaboration with WSU Extension, San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild and the Land Bank

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