Farm Access Resources for 2015

Numerous organizations and programs across Vermont aim to help you find land, find a farmer or find information related to farm tenure and stewardship. Here are ideas to get you going in 2015.

The Vermont Farmland Access Network, or VFAN, was formed in 2010 to improve coordination of services. VFAN has five member organizations. They work on their own in one way or another to broaden the scope and improve the quality of land access opportunities, and they also share information within the network to achieve these same ends. For more information about each VFAN member visit their websites or contact the  new farmer or land access program specialist, listed below:

Intervale The Intervale Center, Beginning Farmer Support, Maggie Donin, maggie@intervale.org, (802) 660-0440 x116

LFG Land For Good, Farm Seekers Program, Mike Ghia, mike@landforgood,org, (802) 869-1214

RAFFL-Logo_ColorRutland Area Farm and Food Link, Referrals, Coaching and Business Planning Assistance, Jen Miller, jen@rutlandfarmandfood.org, (802) 417-7096

Center for Sustainable Agriculture UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture Land Access and Assessment Program, Ben Waterman, ben.waterman@uvm.edu, (802) 656-9142

VLT The Vermont Land Trust Farmland Access Program, Jon Ramsay, jramsay@vlt.org, (802) 533-7705

The types of services each of the above programs provides can vary from time to time.  Contact each representative for further details.  They will give you an overview of available support, provide a referral to other specialists (when applicable) or schedule another meeting or farm visit to help address the details of your situation.

For finding available land or for landowners looking for a farmer, Vermont Land Link is a good place to start.

.VLL logo

The website is a clearinghouse of properties, listing details about available land access opportunities.  It is easy for landowners to post information about properties, and easy for farm seekers to search through the listings.  You can contact landowners directly through the website for more details about each property.

VFAN manages the Vermont Land Link website, but is not a network of real estate agents.  We usually can’t help you find a farm directly, although we sometimes hear about local farms for sale or lease or know of opportunities that are not listed in the broader real estate multiple listing service (MLS) databases.  Contact any of the VFAN representatives, listed above, for back up support with topics such as financing, lease agreements, site assessment or regulatory issues.

Finally, stay tuned for educational workshop announcements in 2015.  Various grants are pending to bring together experts on a variety of topics of interest to farmers eager to acquire land and utilize best practices for setting up sustainable operations.  We are responding to a recent survey of farm seekers about educational wants and needs for 2015 and 2016 in which respondents ranked their interest in participating in workshops.  Sixty eight people responded, and the top five most popular educational topics, in order of highest ranked need to lowest, were:

1.  Debt and alternative financing of land purchase

2.  Land improvement practices, such as soil quality improvements or drainage, how-to and cost/benefits

3.  Farm property assessment techniques, overview of tools and resources

4.  Soils assessment skills building

5. Water systems development, how-to and cost/benefits

Get in touch with any of the above resources to reiterate your ideas for useful educational topics moving forward, or to sign on to mailing lists to receive announcements of workshops or other unique land tenure related information and opportunities.  And enjoy your winter!

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About Ben Waterman

Ben writes about land access, tenure, and stewardship issues that are relevant to new farmers in Vermont. He coordinates the Land Access Program at UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture: http://www.uvm.edu/sustainableagriculture/?Page=begland.html=
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