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Land, Legacy and Food Security on a Small Island

  • Written by  Lopez Community Land Trust

In 2023, Sage Dilts and Nathan Hodges of Barn Owl Bakery approached LCLT to see if we could work together to make their farm and bakery more stable by thinking creatively about land ownership models and community partnerships. LCLT’s founding purposes, of supporting sustainable agriculture and cottage enterprises, and Sage and Nathan’s philosophy for their farm and business are a near perfect fit.

The result is that LCLT has agreed to purchase the 17.5 acres of farm and forest land-only on which Barn Owl Bakery currently resides. In turn, Sage and Nathan will sign a 99-year lease with LCLT, eliminating their land debt burden. In this way, they maintain security, equity and legacy (the right to pass on the business and Improvements to their heirs), and LCLT is able to hold the land in trust, ensuring that it is forever in service of the local food system. Sage and Nathan will continue to own the buildings and have full autonomy of how Barn Owl Bakery is operated. 

This has proven to be an exciting venture. Sage and Nathan started Barn Owl Bakery on Lopez Island in 2013. In 2019 they took a big leap and purchased 17.5 acres of land, along with an old lumber barn turned hardware store turned art gallery. They brought new life to the building, turning it into their home and a space to expand their already successful bakery. Since then, Sage and Nathan have been busy transforming the buildings and land into a diverse agro-forestry system of managed forests, perennial crops, fruit trees, and an intensive annual garden where they will continue to grow and preserve in situ a diversity of rare and heritage grain varieties from around the world. 

While the bakery business continues to thrive, operating a farm and bakery on a small island with high land costs requires creative solutions and additional support. The purchase price for the land is $389,650 which is the 2023 SJC assessed value of the land. LCLT has a $200,000 matching fund to start.  On or before June 30, 2024, LCLT needs to complete the purchase by raising $189,650.

Join us in making history by ensuring a lasting legacy where farms are farmed and local food businesses are supported. We encourage you to learn more and donate, (fully tax deductible) by going to www.lopezclt.org/barn-owl. For further info or questions, please contact lclt@rockisland.com or call 360.468.3723.