Most people consider buying land a crucial first step to starting a farm. And for many, this is can seem an insurmountable barrier.
Luckily, you can not only follow your dreams of farming, you can 'be the change' and provide a service to your community in the process...by leasing farm land.
It's not as complicated as it sounds -- at least, we don't think so. I'll start off with some general information; and then finish by posing some direct questions to Grant Wallace of Grant Wallace Farm -- who has provided a template for initiating contact with community landowners (at the end of this blog).
Your first task (adventure) is to find a community member who has unused stretches of potentially tillable land; approach them with a solid plan, about:
- what you would be farming;
- how much space you require;
- and, begin talks and negotiations as to what sort of price you'd pay them to set up shop -- so to speak -- there.
It's win-win because you'd be increasing their property value in many cases while re-claiming land traditionally used for agriculture in your surrounding community.
I posed some questions to Grant Wallace, Founder and Owner of Grant Wallace Farm about his passion for this.
1) This is a very forward-thinking concept. And by that, I mean it has the potential to really change the game for people who would like to join and / or support the small farming community...which of course is great for local economies and the environment.
Could you weigh in with about your thoughts on this?
Wallace: "If you're wanting to farm some land, and you don't know how to do it, realize there is more support out there than you might think.
A lot of landowners either grew up involved in agriculture, or want to be involved in some way, but are unable to do it themselves, for whatever reason.
To expound on that, some people are so supportive that they may not even charge you [for the land you lease]. It's so beneficial to the landowner that it's often a no-brainer as long as you're doing it 'right' (i.e. keeping the place clean; doing your fair share of general maintenance on the property; and, covering any bill(s) which your access might incur).
If you break it; fix it. If you borrow something, put it back. Just show general respect to the landowners".
2) How do you go about finding this land?
Wallace: "There are public resources and data out there that are useful for this. If you start with Google Maps and kind of find an area that's near you -- you want to be close to the land that you're farming -- at this point you can select areas of focus depending on tree coverage, tillable land access, access issues in general, and, proximity to your general market [customer base].
Once you have the above, you can access, qPublic.net and navigate to the area of land you have pinpointed and you will find the property owner's name and address, there. At this point, you sit down and draft a personal letter to the landowner with specifics about the lease arrangement and your proposed plan. Keep it professional; consider typing it up, and, keeping it fairly formal at least in the beginning".
Sample letter and usage guide, below:
***Letter Template for Farm Lease Proposal***
Dear [Insert Name],
Have you ever thought about leasing out your land for local agriculture use?
I am reaching out to you today in hopes of starting a conversation about leasing part of your land – strategically located right across the street from our current field.
As urban sprawl continues to disrupt our local farming and agricultural traditions, I’ve dedicated part of my business model to reclaiming and preserving land for local agricultural endeavors.
If we work together on this, it can increase the value of your property, to boot.
Your participation would also play a part in helping stabilize the local economy by putting the land back into agricultural use.
On the following page is a guide to our protocol for responsible land stewardship.
Thank you for your consideration…Please reach out A.S.A.P. with your thoughts, ideas, or general response!
***Agricultural Land Lease Guide***
Types of land considered:
- 5 Acre minimum parcel
- Functioning or overgrown pasture ($30 / acre / year)
- Functioning or overgrown orchards and vineyards ($40 / acre / year)
- Tillable land 5-10 acres ($80 / acre / year)
- Broad acreage for grain planting 10-100 acres ($75 / acre / year)
- Abandoned hoop houses and greenhouses (Email)
Seeking these characteristics:
- Good drainage at least 9 months out of the year
- Drivable entry off main road and onto property
- Agricultural Zoning
Types of farming that will be conducted:
- Certified Organic Vegetables
- Certified Organic Herbs
- Certified Organic Edible Flowers
- Non-GMO Grains
- [Various Livestock]
- [Your Specialty]
The type and quantity of land will determine type of farming conducted…
Please contact us today to set up a meeting…
Benefits of leasing your land: save money on mowing while keeping pastures tillable, maintain orchards, preserve overall fertility and function of your land – support agriculture, organics, and your local economy…