Jenny Rice & Fieldstone Farms Fund
But last year was different - in a brave effort to succeed, she ventured into the horse industry alone with family support and the possibility of leasing a one-acre parcel of her land to her brother, a legal recreational cannabis grower.
Fast forward past many long and hard days to 6 months later, and the grower is forced to shut down.
Today, Jenny faces the loss of her farm program because her neighbors are pursuing their claims even after the grower - their main target of concern - has withdrawn... going so far as to demand a share of what they call "unjust enrichment," and seeking to restrict the only road access for Jenny's land to "residential-use only," despite the fact that it has been farmed without incident for decades.
Jenny's situation is dire. If these claims are rewarded, it could be the final blow to her farm, and all the love that grows there. The lawsuit is jointly filed by the three neighbors who share the use of Fieldstone Rd who seek to be rewarded with the following:
- Permanently enjoining Jenny Rice and Fieldstone Farms from using the road for farming and restricting her easement to "Residential-Use Only."
- Trespassing (using Fieldstone Rd and utilities for non-residential use).
- Damages (against San Juan Sungrown and David Rice)
- Unjust Enrichment (against San Juan Sungrown and David Rice), "using Fieldstone Rd unjustly for his own enrichment and therefor owes the Plaintiffs part of the proceeds."
Please note: Fieldstone Rd is the ONLY road access to the 76+ acres of established farmland owned by Jenny Rice and Fieldstone Farms. Once part of approx. 180 acres of farmland known as the Estate of Gwendolyn Wilson, this land has been in the San Juan County Farm & Agricultural program since 1974 and farmed for over 100 years. But during the division and sale of land before Gwendolyn's passing she never stipulated permanent ag access for any of her parcels. Now the neighbors are suing to stop farming of any kind on this land.
We love Jenny and her farm, and she has a dream of sharing it with people in kindness. She has a right to farm her land in peace.
Please give what you can.
Thank you, dearly!
It is with gulps and great gratitude that I make this long-coming announcement. The lawsuit; Thomas and Deborah Nolan, Mary Lou and Mark Sternitke, and Larry Pentz vs. David Rice and Jenny Rice, San Juan Sungrown, Fieldstone Farms, et al; has been settled outside of court. Out of respect for the Plaintiffs, my neighbors, I will not be releasing details regarding the settlement negotiations on social media. Rather, I would firstly like to take this opportunity to thank them for their willingness to move forward without further litigation. This final update on the gofundme page for Fieldstone Farms will be its conclusion.
Politically speaking… San Juan Sungrown was a catalyst for conflict that involved several advocated themes converging into one argument. Marijuana was only part of it. At the heart was fear… and most prominently, fear of change, and fear of losing money on land value. And therefore what should have remained an issue pertaining only to the cultivation of marijuana, spread like persecution onto the entire farming community in an attempt of our local government (and those influencing it) to control the landscape of our islands in such a way as to protect the real estate value of residential property. Regardless of the outcome for my own family, I am proud of the stance we took against the proposed moratorium on marijuana and greenhouse farming in San Juan County. It was not an issue exclusive to marijuana and farming… it is an issue inclusive of ALL San Juan County citizens. Please remember this debacle when you hand in your ballots.
For many days I sat down, every evening, in front of my computer, inside my teeny tiny house, and tried (and failed) to find appropriate words of closure for something that made ripples far beyond my own small, singular stance. For myself and my family, I am certainly relieved to be closing this chapter of our lives, though our futures be ever more uncertain. Personally speaking, I feel like I went to hell in a hand-basket and lost ten years off my life trying to find my way back without the basket. I lost a lawsuit, a livelihood, a lot of much-loved horses, and out of financial necessity my farm is for sale. So I am losing that, too. But what I’ve gained makes up for all of that tenfold. Along with some well-earned wrinkles and silver hair at my temples is my big bleeding heart ten sizes bigger than before this.
I want to thank each and every one of my supporters, but how do I even begin? (And how do I even see my screen through all of my tears??). I received countless emails, comments, hugs, kisses, cards, letters, checks in the mail from strangers, checks in the mail from friends, online donations from folks near and far, online donations from I-502 retailers, companies who waived their invoices, friends who gave me cash at the grocery store… who read the riot act to the county council… who wrote countless letters to editors… who came to the Summary Judgment in solidarity… who came to support me at my farm when I needed it most… who made tee shirts and donated the sales... who grew vegetables and donated those sales… who marched in the Farm Parade... friends who were not afraid to take a stance, publicly, no matter the consequence. I even had a friend who donated her ribbon money from the San Juan County Fair. Thank you, thank you, thank you dear friends, from the bottom of my heart. I cried big fat tears over every photo from the farm parade and knew that whilst I may have lost the lawsuit, I most certainly won the 2015 Friday Harbor Fall Farm Parade! And that’s worth so much more, my friends… so much more.
A big thank you to all of our San Juan Sungrown employees. One of the worst days for me was when everyone got laid off right before Christmas. I felt pretty sad… and it was pretty lonesome around here after you all left. I kept all of your I.D. badges… my treasures to remember you by.
Thank you Danny Burton, and Huck & Lucy, who watched me cry buckets of tears that year… but whose bright souls shone a bright light on what was most certainly the darkest winter of my life. Danny, I know we fought tooth and nail like jealous siblings... but you lit up my life when you lit up the mini house on Christmas.
To my brother David…thank you for not losing your shit. For remaining calm when I was losing my shit. For reminding me that there would be a new day, a new year, a new opportunity. I watched you stare failure in the face without losing the kindness in your eyes. I love you.
Jim Lawrence, you stood up for me in a way that nobody in my life ever has. I will never forget that. I know this has been hard on your family and I haven’t taken that lightly.
I give my most reverent hats-off to Lisa Lawrence, Sandy Strehlou, and Shelle Cropper. In different ways and for different reasons, you came to my rescue time and time again. You filled my heart with gratitude for your friendship, your intelligence, and your tireless advocacy that I am now convinced is exclusive to female energy. Not everyone can say they made it through hell with the help of a trifecta of women warriors backing them up the entire way! It was huge.
And so, dear friends, I’ve come to the end… and will close this list, with a kiss:
I never really knew,
The meaning of true blue,
Until there was you.
Equitable claims (such as damages from our use of the implied easements, and "unjust enrichment") will be decided by Judge Hancock.
Nuisance claims (trespassing, emotional distress) will be decided by a jury.
The Plaintiffs' request to file a 2nd Amended Claims was granted. The 2nd Amended Claims include the following:
-Damages re: RCW 4.24.630 (Liability for damage to land and property: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=4.24.630).
-Requesting "for final judgment in the Plaintiffs' favor against all Defendants," awarding them:
a) DAMAGES for TRESPASS in an amount to be determined at trial
b) TREBLE DAMAGES (a term that indicates that a statute permits the court to triple the amount of the actual/compensatory damages to be awarded to a prevailing plaintiff).
c) DAMAGES due to EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
-Plaintiffs' investigative costs, attorneys' fees and costs provided by RCW 4.24.630."
"Hi all! I'm hoping to raise a little $$ for Jenny Rice 's legal fund. I've got extra greens and veggies from our huge garden and greenhouse. Please come buy some for really great prices!! Washed salad mix bags, basil mix bags (great for pesto!), tons of cucumbers, rainbow chard, 3 kinds of kale... Pick up at 725 Guard St (3rd driveway past tennis courts). Pls park on street and walk up driveway- you will see coolers on front porch. There will be directions there about leaving $$. Please bring money or be prepared to donate to Jenny directly. Great pricing, probably lower than the grocery store and 100% local/organic!"
A large marijuana processing facility has opened up about a block from where I live (just outside of Eastsound). The building and the property are beautiful, there is no smell what-so-ever (one of the legal arguments if I recall), and the people who own it are a wonderful young couple (really great folks). There's been no decrease in property values, no significant increase in traffic, and no problems with the neighbors. The early report on this year's fiscal status shows that marijuana has brought $60Mil into the state's economy. Thank you for what you, your family, and your friends and backers stand for Jenny. You're awesome!
Hey Jenny, will you post the details about Friday? I have Friday off, so specifics would be helpful. Thanks, and BEST OF LUCK!!
Former San Juan resident here. two questions, doesn't Mr . Nolan use the road for his commercial business? I believe he has a shop he works out of on his property and isn't the permit issuer to San Juan Sundown i.e. the county responsible for any lawsuit? This lawsuit is even more ridiculous since the business has closed! Best of luck!
Jerry, I am happy to hear that your experience had a positive outcome and that your neighbors were willing to listen to reason! Jenny and David also tried that same approach, even visiting face-to-face to hear concerns and offer information and solutions, to no avail. Then a letter that was presented to each neighbor, offering to address their concerns and come to an agreement that everyone can live with, was answered with a letter from the neighbors' lawyers to never try to contact the neighbors directly again. They truly believe that they have the right to tell Jenny what and who she can have on her own property at all times (this has included things like horse shelters!) simply because they can see it from their house.
Some years back I was faced with a complaint by a very rich neighbor concerning a pond I had built. It was a simple minded complaint from his lawyer stating that the pond was leaking onto his property even though the property under discussion was a Nationally Registered Wetland. This caused me weeks of gastric problems before I buckled down and responded with a four page letter, with site maps, patiently explaining the hydrology of the site. After reviewing my letter the complaint went away showing that there are still some of the very rich who have a modicum of respect for the (very) hard working 99%. I would hope that the people behind this lawsuit find the time to look in a mirror and see themselves as the rest of us see them.