Access to Land, Capital, Equipment Barriers to Farm Entry
Posted: February 24, 2012
They turned to the PASA’s brand new land linking program, Farm Lease Connection (www.farmleaseconnection.org). After months of meetings with the guidance of Marilyn Anthony, PASA’s southeast regional director and founder of the land leasing program, setting collaborative goals for how the land will be managed, and building a relationship, TJ and Chris began farming the Lundale Farm in Northern Chester County and had a successful season in 2011, and look forward to continue to build their CSA for 2012.
Anthony stressed the importance of truly making a land owner – farmer connection before entering into a binding agreement. Shared goals are absolutely necessary to ensure the success of the relationship. The Farm Lease Connection is a tool to help land owners and farmers put themselves out there – like a mix between eBay and eHarmony – by providing a thorough application for each party who is seeking the other. Anthony helps match applicants on the Farm Lease Connection site based on geography and their personal and professional goals for their farm. She did warn conference goers though – it takes up to two years to form a relationship, make an agreement, and the farming begins.
It is necessary for aspiring and beginning farmers to be innovative in the ways they acquire resources needed to begin and expand their farms. Accessing land, capital, and equipment is not always easy. Penn State Extension’s Start Farming program is offering a series of educational programs designed to help farmers break through these barriers. Partnering with Pennsylvania Farm Link, they will host Breaking the Barriers – Access to Land, Capital, and Equipment on April 21 in West Chester. The program will feature creative ways to acquire land, such as incubator farms and conservancies, and determine an equipment budget and timeline - so not all equipment has be purchased in the first year of production when capital is sometimes minimal. Sue Milshaw from the Chester County Economic Development Council will present financing options available to beginning farmers often not available through traditional banks and lenders. Area farmers will share their start-up experiences and lessons learned throughout their farm journey.