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Farmland Tenure Options for Beginning Farmers

On the afternoon of Monday, July 30th, a dozen farmers and community members convened at the AOLC farm office to participate in a land tenure workshop and dialogue lead by Kathy Ruhf, Co-Director of Land for Good, a New England-based not-for-profit that works with landowners, land managers and entering farmers to keep “working lands working.”

The group was small enough to allow for ample discussion and feedback on participants’ personal land use situations. Beginning farmers were in attendance, seeking short- and mid-term alternatives to the cost of land purchase. Established farmers asked questions about farm expansion, farm relocation and farm succession strategies... <--break->Additionally, landowners contributed to the discussion by offering models and ideas for land-linking programs.

Kathy presented information on a variety of topics related to land tenure agreements, encouraging attendees to first have a clear picture of their goals, values and readiness. While discussing ways to conceptually decouple the land itself from improvements made to the land, participants shared the land features that are “necessary, desirable and optional” in the land arrangements they envision.

Next followed a description of the four main types of leases pertinent to land tenure arrangements: ground leases, short-term leases, long-term leases and leasing-to-own. Furthermore, we discussed that when planning for a land tenure arrangement, important items to keep in mind about the property are access, security, a clear and equitable division of rights and responsibilities, and a way to address equity.

Finally, the evening wrapped up with a conversation about the profile of landowners in the US, including some brainstorming on non-traditional, or perhaps overlooked, landowners such as religious institutions, state and local governments and conservation organizations. Lastly, we discussed strategies for networking in the community that could create good leads from which to develop land tenure arrangements. Thank you to everyone who attended!