Farm Lease Connection: A New Kind of Online Relationship
Posted: May 1, 2012
Serving the Community of Sustainable Farmers, Consumers and Businesses Throughout Pennsylvania and Beyond
Beginning farmers often have the same two frustrations: limited access to land and money. Leasing land can help overcome those obstacles by allowing farmers to build equity without the burden of initial purchasing costs. PASA recently launched our new land-leasing program, Farm Lease Connection (FLC), to address these concerns and bring farmers and landowners together in the creation of successful farm enterprises.
FLC is best described as a blend of eBay and eHarmony that introduces new or expanding farmers to landowners of all kinds, from private homeowners to municipalities and land trusts. The program uses web technology and personal communication to bring both parties together. Parcels of land as small as a ¼ acre, up to hundreds of acres, are all potentially eligible for inclusion. At this time, there is no cost to farmers or landowners to enroll in FLC.
“Over the past several years, market demand for locally grown food has grown exponentially,” said Marilyn Anthony, PASA’s Eastern Regional Director. “There’s never been a better time to be a farmer. PASA created Farm Lease Connection to enable the next generation of farmers to get a solid start in agriculture, by linking them with the most precious resource, underused and affordable land.”
To see where the matches get started, visit farmleaseconnection.org. The site allows farmers and landowners to set up anonymous profiles to protect confidentiality while advertising their farming experience and goals. The site also offers a list of helpful resources and classes, an event calendar and recommended experts to help in the leasing process.
Since it takes time to find the right combination of people and land, FLC encourages participants to apply at least two years before they are ready to break ground on a new farm business. In the meantime, farmers are asked to create strong business plans and landowners are encouraged to visit area farms to get a real sense of what a farming enterprise would look like on their land.
Initially focused in Eastern Pennsylvania, FLC will be rolled out across the state in the next year with the goal of eventually including participants from around the Mid-Atlantic region. For more information about this program contact Ann McGinnis, Eastern Region Program Assistant, firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-458-3956.
How does Farm Lease Connection (FLC) work?
Once you register, you will be given access to log into the FLC site and search the confidential listings of landowners looking for farmers. The listings contain basic information like the county where the property is located, available water sources and how the land was previously used, to preserve user privacy and keep both parties open to considering a variety of options. When you show interest in a potential match, FLC staff receive a notification and will contact you for further details about what you are looking for. Then, we take the relationship building process to the next level: by arranging phone interviews, site visits and in-person, mediated meetings.
- Eastern Region Program Assistant, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture