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NYT Article about the imminent demise of one of the US's oldest family farms

 
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Hi - I'm not sure if I placed this post in the correct forum; if not, many apologies.

I just finished reading this article in the NYT After 240 Years and 7 Generations, Forced to Sell the Family Farm, and I wondered if there is a way to combine permies who want to work the land with people who are losing their farms because of many things, but mainly because their children do not want to take over.

They're trying, but they're close to done. Maybe there's a way some folks looking for land to work can find common ground with this couple and build a community.

This is their site: HULL-O FARMS
 
pollinator
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So sad to read this. Maybe someone who's working on their PEP skills will contact the family and move there to help them out! :-)
 
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This is so sad, and I don't know the answer! My husband and I are nearly 50, with no kids, and want to retire on property. I'm constantly thinking about how to do it without kids. Is there an organization out there that connects young people who want to farm/work the land with older people who want to find someone to pass their resources down to? Maybe this is something that is needed?

I know my friend, who is 85, managed to find a family to buy her 200 acres for a very cheap price so she could live there until her death and they could farm it (her husband died 10 years ago), I would think a way to connect people to take over these properties would be a good thing. It seems like we are more connected than ever technologically, but we can't seem to connect in any meaningful way.
 
pollinator
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The problem is scale. They sound like a wonderful older farm couple and I feel for them but they are trying to do conventional commodities agribusiness at one tenth the scale of their competitors and it does not work. 15 30 acre farms could probably create niches for themselves with some added outside income. There is no way in hell an aspiring farmer can make a beast like that work and provide them with a decent retirement.
 
Beth Johnson
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Kali Hermitage wrote:It seems like we are more connected than ever technologically, but we can't seem to connect in any meaningful way.



Exactly! I emailed the farm and directed them to this site before posting here.

Because the farm has been in their family for 240 years, I'm sure there is a type of muscle memory and are stories of how the land used to be worked by their grandparents. The owners might be amenable to the idea of turning back time on the way the land is worked plus adding newer sustainable permaculture methods.

Erica Colmenares wrote:So sad to read this. Maybe someone who's working on their PEP skills will contact the family and move there to help them out! :-)



Exactly. Permies are always looking for land. I believe these folks would love to stay on their farm. I hope something works out.
 
Beth Johnson
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David Baillie wrote:The problem is scale. They sound like a wonderful older farm couple and I feel for them but they are trying to do conventional commodities agribusiness at one tenth the scale of their competitors and it does not work. 15 30 acre farms could probably create niches for themselves with some added outside income. There is no way in hell an aspiring farmer can make a beast like that work and provide them with a decent retirement.



Agreed. But what if two or three families offer to work the land while allowing the couple to keep living their lives on their land. There has to be a workable land trust. And who knows - maybe some permies would like to keep the B&B going in a more sustainable way.
 
pollinator
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Kali Hermitage wrote:This is so sad, and I don't know the answer! My husband and I are nearly 50, with no kids, and want to retire on property. I'm constantly thinking about how to do it without kids. Is there an organization out there that connects young people who want to farm/work the land with older people who want to find someone to pass their resources down to? Maybe this is something that is needed?



i agree this is an answer. a lot of work and would take many many volunteers/workers to set it up, but its a strongly needed thing.
could also be combined with an organization who places people in WOOF type positions, internships and etc...and all the way to networking ICs, hooking up new farmers with cheap/free ish land...more permanent positions and facilitating land acquisition by beginning farmers.

i have been following a bit about this stuff...and looked into the USDA programs and what might be coming from all this stuff --->
https://landforgood.org/lap3-award/

https://nifa.usda.gov/funding-opportunity/beginning-farmer-and-rancher-development-program-bfrdp

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264837718313942
 
Kali Hermitage
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leila hamaya wrote:
i have been following a bit about this stuff...and looked into the USDA programs and what might be coming from all this stuff --->
https://landforgood.org/lap3-award/

https://nifa.usda.gov/funding-opportunity/beginning-farmer-and-rancher-development-program-bfrdp

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264837718313942



Hi Liela, thanks for those resources. I also recently found out about a program that pays for you to not farm land (but restore it to native habitat) I thought that could be an interesting idea for us older people.

I think one of our biggest problems is how we now view land or property, it's no longer something to tend to and care for and pass down for the future generations, but an "investment" for individuals. I'm a firm believer in private property on a scale that people or communities can care for, not a fan of a small minority hoarding it all for themselves. I also get quite frustrated with older folks I see selling off property to the highest bidder, which inevitably leads to development, then they complain about how all the land is being developed. Well we can't have it both ways! If you want to get rich off your property then you'll most likely not be selling it to people who will maintain it. I hear a lot of this is going on in some farming areas near small towns and universities, land is being bought up and developed by foreign investment, driving up prices above what regular people can buy (I know it's driving property out of our price range in the area we are looking).

I guess we all need to change our priorities from the right now to caring about the future. I'm not all that hopeful we will.
 
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Kali Hermitage wrote:This is so sad, and I don't know the answer! My husband and I are nearly 50, with no kids, and want to retire on property. I'm constantly thinking about how to do it without kids. Is there an organization out there that connects young people who want to farm/work the land with older people who want to find someone to pass their resources down to? Maybe this is something that is needed?

I know my friend, who is 85, managed to find a family to buy her 200 acres for a very cheap price so she could live there until her death and they could farm it (her husband died 10 years ago), I would think a way to connect people to take over these properties would be a good thing. It seems like we are more connected than ever technologically, but we can't seem to connect in any meaningful way.



OEFFA in Ohio has a land/farmer linking service.  Here's the link to it: http://www.heartlandfarmlink.org/
 
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Holy crap, I did not know I was one of the oldest farms in the country! I am a 9th Generational Farm, having officially started in 1746. My kids will be the 10th generation...

That aside, there are FarmLink Programs in every state I think, but they tend to be scams for both the Farm Owner and Potential Farmer. I have talked at length about that on here before.

In short, the number of farmers LOOKING greatly outnumber the farms AVAILABLE, so the new farmers pay a fee yearly, and get put on a waiting list that they are on for years.

For the farm owner, it is worse. The FarmLink Programs have an annual fee that must be paid, and there is fine print allowing the farm to be sold off in lots. They do this under the guise of providing potential farmhand housing, but really they get the farm, and then sell off the house lots that have views, access, etc for the most money. Then they sell the farm to the beginner farmer who has to pay the fees again.

Essentially a farm owner is selling off a lot of rights that their land comes bundled with, like a bunch of Asparagus with an elastic band...water rights, mineral rights, timber rights, the right to build, right of ways, oil leases, etc...which is what really irks me. I lose enough rights as a land owner every year, I do not need to PAY the FarmLink programs more moey...yearly...to lose more rights. The lawyer for our local FarmLink program hates me because I let everyone I know that it is a scam.

It really is a crappy deal, and farmers have known this for years, so most farms stay away from them like the plague.

I know first hand that as a multi-generational farm, people often state that they "want to help the farmer", but the reality is, so few actually want to farm. With 1/2% of the people in this country actually being full-time farmers (1 out of 200 people), we really need more farmers, and less people talking about helping us. The USDA alone has 100,000 employees. Do we really need 1 USDA employee for every 15 farmers? How about...wait for it...more farmers actually farming the land?
 
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