A Farmer’s Guide to Working With Land Trusts

Access to land is a huge challenge for farmers. Betting you already knew that. But there are ways to work around, with, or through that hurdle. One great way is by working with a land trust. Land trusts are non-profit organizations often started by community members to preserve or protect resources like land, habitat, or other natural features from development. They may be volunteer-run, or may include paid staff. Working with a land trust can help you access affordable farmland in a number of ways. The land trust purchases an easement on property to maintain it in agricultural use, or purchases then resells or leases land at its agricultural value to a working farmer who will farm the land. Having that easement typically reduces the cost of the property, making it more accessible for the farmer. In addition to lowering the selling price of the land, the easement usually restricts development rights, along with other land usage. It's like a compromise between the farmer-buyer, the land trust, and the seller. The farmer-buyer agrees to abide by the restrictions of the easement, the land trust and community fund and maintain the resources they appreciate, and the seller gets a cash payment or a tax-deductible donation, or a combination of the two.

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