The second largest island in the San Juan archipelago with 55.3 square miles or 35,448 acres, San Juan has a varied topography, ranging from San Juan Valley to Mount Dallas at ??.
San Juan was the earliest farmed island, with the Hudson’s Bay Company arriving in 1853 to establish Belle Vue Sheep Farm at the south end of the island. In addition to sheep, they also raised cattle, hogs, and various crops such as oats, wheat, potatoes and turnips. With the settlement of the boundary dispute in 1872, American settlers who had already squatted on land applied for preemption or homestead grants, and began subsistence farming. During the 1880s and 1890s, larger scale farming was practiced, with dairy cattle, fruit, and grain production. During the 1920s, peas were raised for canning, and a pea cannery was established, along with a creamery, in Friday Harbor. The island saw large scale poultry production, primarily chickens and turkeys, with John McMillin’s Bellevue Farm producing thousands of chickens, geese, and turkeys. After World War II, agriculture gradually declined, with both the cannery and the creamery in Friday Harbor closing in the 1960s.
Starting in the 1980s, farming on San Juan began to increase again, but this time with smaller market gardens, while the larger, livestock-based farms continued on a more marginal basis. There is an active farmers’ market in Friday Harbor, which also has vendors from Waldron, during the spring, summer, and early fall. In 2008, the San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild was formed to promote the establishment of a permanent farmers’ market in Friday Harbor, now known as Brickworks. Today, several farms produce crops for sale at the farmers’ market, community supported agriculture, restaurants, and stores. Pelindaba Lavender Farm, established in 1998, offers many lavender products both locally and regionally. San Juan Vineyards was established in 1996, producing Madeleine Angevine and Siegerrebe grapes locally as well as importing red grapes from the Yakima Valley to produce red wines. Westcott Bay Cider, established in 1990s, produces its first hard cider in 1999, and has won several awards for its varieties.