The New Spirit Farmland Partnerships recognises that access to farmland on a long-term basis at affordable prices is critical to the success of organic and sustainable farmers of every kind. The Organic Farmland Access Programme helps farmers in the Midwest of the United States who want to farm in ways that are organic or sustainable, by providing them with long-term access to land.

The programme works by linking farmers with socially motivated investors, who will purchase farmland and lease it back to the farmer on a long-term, renewable contract, which also gives them the option to buy the land. Unlike other farm management companies, they are interested firstly in the needs of the farmer and stewardship of the land. They also work with landowners and investors who are committed to the preservation of farmland and to sustainable agriculture.

The programme is currently looking for farmers in the Midwest who are seeking additional land to grow their current farming operation or are looking for a whole farm in which to start out their agricultural career. The programme is also interested in supporting small and mid-sized farmers who are managing diversified crop and livestock operations, diversified direct marketing CSA type operations or on-farm artisanal food businesses and farmers who can demonstrate a commitment to the holistic principles of organic, biodynamic or sustainable agriculture whether or not they are certified in any way.

If you fit into any of the above criteria, you can apply online or send an email answering the following questions:

  1. Describe your farm and your business. Please include the history and goals of your operation, the location, size and character of your farm, the different products you raise and whether you are certified in any manner.
  2. Describe how you market your different products and how long you have worked with your current buyer/s. What have been your challenges and successes as a business?
  3. Describe the farmland you have in mind and why you are seeking this assistance. Please include how much land, where it is located, how obtainable it is, what you think it would cost and what kind of lease terms you would propose.
  4. Please send three names as references from some of the businesses or organisations with whom you work, for example, farm groups, buyers, certifiers, bankers, or agencies.
  5. Please include all your contact information, such as your email, phone numbers and address.

The New Spirit Farmland Partnerships also run a succession programme, which connects experienced and beginning farmers with farmers who are looking to retire but would like to keep their land in organic production.

For more information about either of these programmes, visit their website or contact Robert Karp.

Photograph: Natural Resources Conservation

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