Farmland LP of San Francisco is the intended buyer in one of the most-watched sales in eastern Washington state, the purchase of the 6,000-acre Weidert Farm near Walla Walla. The sale has been closely followed because the contiguous land features prime growing conditions for wine grape, tree fruit or other permanent crops.
The sale was disclosed today by Peoples Company, a land brokerage and land management company representing the seller. The sale is expected to close within months, Peoples Company said in a news release.
Farmland LP was formed in 2009 “to add value to farmland by converting it to organic, sustainable agriculture,” according the release. It manages more than 12,000 acres in Northern California and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. In 2015, the group purchased 6,000 acres in the Willamette Valley from Olsen Agricultural Enterprises, an entity controlled by a pioneer farming family.
Jason Bradford is co-founder and managing partner of Farmland LP, according to the company web site. Before starting the company, he taught ecology at Washington University in St. Louis and conducted field research in Peru on a grant by the National Science Foundation in New Caledonia on a grant by the National Geographic Society. He earned a Ph.D. in evolution and population biology from Washington University.
Sale price and plans for the land were not disclosed. The land was described as having optimal elevations, excellent air drainage, gradual slope, attractive soil profile and abundant permitted water rights. The land was recently used for drylands wheat and irrigated row crops.
The seller, Tim Weidert, is a Pendleton, Oregon-based dryland wheat farmer, whose family has been acquiring and improving the land since his father bought the first parcel in the 1960s.
When Tim Weidert took over the property from his father, just as the wine grape industry began to take off in the Walla Walla region in the 1980s, he began applying for state water rights and drilling wells. “I just knew water was going to be key to this farm,” he told Good Fruit Grower in an 2016 feature when the property was listed for sale.
That was a wise bet, as new water rights in the region are now limited. Four deep wells provide just over 5,000 acre-feet of water and permits allow for another well to draw 900 acre-feet more. There’s also an allocation for 167 acres from the Touchet River, which translates to over 700 acre-feet.
“We appreciate the strong interest the Weidert Farm garnered from investors and local farmers,” said People Company President Steve Bruere. “Farmland LP’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and land management makes them an ideal buyer for this exceptional piece of property that has enormous potential.