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Had anybody had experience with creative ways of sharing ownership of land?

I want to buy a small wooded parcel on which to build a strawbale cottage, plant a garden, and live peacefully and sustainably. I like the idea of an intentional community, but I also want to own my land and maintain a degree of independence. As I've been looking at lovely 5-acre parcels, the thought occurred that, with good, like-minded neighbors, I would really only need an acre or two to achieve my dream. If I could share a piece of land, it would cut costs dramatically (especially as I'm looking just outside of Seattle, which has gotten extremely expensive). Since the land I'm looking at is zoned at 5 acres and can't legally be split and sold, I'm wondering what my options are.

Any ideas?
 
paul wheaton
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There are folks that have done it. 

You probably want to take a look at "Creating a Life Together" by Diana Leafe Christian.

It seems the most popular way is to create a LLC.  The corportation owns the land and the people own the corporation.  Do not go with a 501c3. 

This sort of thing can work out, but most don't.  In Diana's book she emphasizes that 90% don't work out.  Of the 10% that do work out, there are varying degrees of smooth (or not so much).

It is worth researching deeply.

Among the topics to look into:  what happens if personality conflicts arise?  What might the zoning restrictions be?  Can you build two homes on one property?
 
                                
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Location: Middle Georgia
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if you want a 5 acre lot i would just find some like minded folks who would go in halves with you on the land and then legally divide the land once purchased. Since you found the land you get to pick which half you want its only fair.
Owning land with multiple owners can be tough its easier if they own theirs and you own yours.
 
Jacqueline Freeman
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Location: southwest Washington state
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You just described what we're doing with our farm and land. We had this idea just a few weeks ago and have been wondering how in the world we find someone else thinking along these lines.

We have a biodynamic farm in southwest WA about an hour and 45 min. south of Olympia and 35 min. north of Portland. We own ten acres and lease eight more (with an option on another four). We own a hundred year old farm that we're the second owners of and it's always been organic.

We have established gardens, small greenhouse, dairy and beef cows, chickens, seasonal turkeys, orchards, herbs, and 150 young fruit/nut trees and natives added in the past few years.

Recently we had the thought that if we could find the right person(s), we could sell them half our farm and cooperatively share many of the tasks and also share the bounty. We like this idea: We each autonomously own a good size piece of land and live separately yet share our farms cooperatively. Why should each of us own a dairy cow when one cow gives plenty of milk for two households? Our flock of two dozen chickens lay plenty of eggs and the hens can free range on both pieces of land. Same with the gardens and fruit trees, more than enough to go around and sharing the work means two separate households don't have to start from scratch, we can share the garden work and harvest. How about when you want to take a vacation? Easy when your neighbor already knows exactly how to care for everything there.

I'm sure you get my drift as you're obviously thinking the same way we are.

We're in southwest Washington in a tiny (pop. 2000) rural village where friends help friends. If something happens (illness or death in the family) to someone here, neighbors bring them over meals each day until they're back on their feet. We love living here. If you're interested, come on down and have a look. I can send you a pdf file if you pop me over an email.
[email]friendlyhaven@gmail.com[/email]

warmly,
Jacqueline (& Joseph) Freeman
www.FriendlyHaven.com


 
            
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Location: Northport, Wash.
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We set up an LLC for a community over here in eastern WA.  So far it is myself and my wife and our daughter and her two children.
We went with an LLC as it seems to afford more flexibility of ownership.  Each family group or individual member has one share and one vote in the community happenings.  Since it so far is just us, (we have been advertising for more folks, but no takers yet) we are proceeding as if it will just be us.  However,  we feel that any community should have the flexibility to change as needed, so our LLC is set up with that in mind, if others take an interest in what we are doing.  The LLC is basically a partnership, but has the limited liability advantages of a corporation, without the hassles of a corporation.  Also, instead of the hassles of setting up a nonprofit to avoid taxation problems, with the LLC, if you don't make any money, you have no taxes to pay, but if you do make money, then it is passed through and divided according to ownership percentage (equally, in our case) of each member.  This is similar to communes with income sharing attributes.  The LLC can be set up just as a holding company for the land, or it can be operated as any other business. 
In our case, our community will be a farm based community, with the LLC owning the land, and housing will be provided by the LLC for the members who live there and operate the farm.  We are looking at shared farming projects, or an allotment sort of thing where each member has a certain amount of land to use for their own farming interests, the allotments would have to be used for farming and production of goods and services revolving around what used to be found in small villages around the world before the advent of modern society. 
We looked at all the various forms communities use for the administration of the community and felt that the LLC provided the best options for everyone.  Each member has an ownership share in the venture, and is able to sell that interest, within certain guidelines, to others if they want to leave, so they do not lose out on anything they put into the community as they would with non profits.  If the community ever split up, then the assets would be divided according to the ownership percentage of each member. 
We are still working out the fine details but it appears to be a pretty good way to go for a community, especially a farming type community.
There are some communities over in the Seattle area that use this form of ownership, but they seem to be mostly just housing, without any business interests.
The only problems we can see with the LLC is that, like a partnership, other members could take some sort of action that could encumber the LLC with debt, such as buying a new tractor without talking about it with the others.  Language would have to be put into the documents creating the LLC that would prohibit this.  In our case, it is language that firstly prohibits this activity, and secondly, if it occurs anyway, the member who does it forfeits their investment up to at least the amount of the encumbrance, and also forfeits their membership.  Kind of harsh, but we felt it would protect the other members and everyone would agree to it prior to joining anyway.
 
                      
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it's not landsharing but it's co-ownership of a communal house. We have a "tenancy in common agreement" which defines shares, rights, responsibilities and especially what happens when one or t'other wants to pull out. it's sort of a shared property ownership pre nuptial agreement  It says nothing about the human side of cooperative living, just protects all owners financial stakes. i have friends who purchased a piece of land with a neighbor and they simply spelled out in writing every eventuality they could think of. Co-ownership is a financial decision but it alway bring up power dynamics - who gets to have a say over what.
 
Jami McBride
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Location: PNW Oregon
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Wow, what great information!

I like Jacqueline's explanation of the benefits.  I've thought along these lines myself. 

When my grandmother could no longer take care of her yard, and her kid's wouldn't help her with it I tried to get her to buy some land with me.  This way I would be taking care of the garden, land etc. and adding her shopping lists to mine.  Mean while I could run to the store and leave my autistic son home knowing that friendly-eyes were near by and no one was going to come up to our door.... We would both have our own houses/mobile homes whatever we decided.

My Grandmother was talked out of this by one her kids, my Aunt.  She was worried that Grandma would die and her assets would be tied up with mine....I felt this was something that could be addressed.  But people worry that others will do the very things that lurk in their own hearts.  Grandma didn't have much, but that did not seem to matter.

Oh well, I tried to design a win win - I wanted a way to get out on some land and my Grandma needed help everything else.

I do not like the idea of IC's - just to much 'shared' for me, but I love the idea of land-partnerships.  Where people with the same spirit and general goals can share the responsibilities and blessings of land ownership.

~Jami
 
Jami McBride
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Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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The tricky part is figuring that out for yourself -- if you think a negative thing about someone else, is it really about them, or is it something that's "lurking in your own heart?"


Boy, isn't THAT the truth 
 
paul wheaton
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I was looking at a discussion on the permaculture mailing list and this one guy (Harold Waldock) said something I thought was really profound.  So, I got his permission to repost it here. 

---------------------------

I thought about acquiring land but realized that a solo project by me
was unlikely to be successful in the long run.  As a human, I had to
accept that I had strong social needs that would be hard to meet in
rural areas given my background.  As an urbanite (going back
generations) I would be at a huge disadvantage in the the
countryside.  With tendonitis that does not go away I had
liabilities.  With low capital I had to take Bill Mollison's warning
in the PDM that one must not go onto the land under capitalized and
that he wrote the one should expect it would take 7 years before a
self supporting income could be had from the land.  Furthermore, here
in BC Canada we had the experience of the hippies who came from the
US to escape the draft or warrants for their arrest for other
things.  Some went into the hills or coves and just subsisted for a
while.  Some were part of communes with unreasonable ideas that were
usually spectacularly unsuccessful.

Finally, a story from my assistant PDC instructor Liz Richardson on
Cortez Island when I asked for the last name of some people living
nearby.  "Oh, I don't know their last names.  They come as couples to
the island, they buy a piece of land, they work to pay for it, work
to build on it a house and pay for the materials.  When they finish
it, they divorce, selling the house of all that effort, of years of
blood, sweat and tears."  It suggests that homesteading is not well
supported, not easily done and too hard for many who take it on.
There is also the 'hole in the woods syndrome' which is quite common
on this coast too.  That is specifically not making sure the site is
sunny during the winter here which so dark, grey and rainy.  There
had to be a better way, I thought.

Talk to friends get a group and develop together a neighbourhood and
call it an ecovillage only if you want.  That is where I started.
That road is not easy or for everybody  either but at least you have
the talents of others helping, capital in scale and the ability to
hire professionals.  It does take a couple of extra years but you
learn about what you are getting into.  I've not finished this road
either as I'm not yet on site, but other members are.  When they need
help they ask.  More members are buying or leasing homes at Yarrow
Ecovillage www.yarrowecovillage.ca every few months now.

Therefore, I'd suggest checking out ecovillages and just talking with
knowledgeable people in the areas you want to be in. I am always
surprised how many such ecovillage or ecohamlet type nieghbourhoods
exist and not well connected or known or networked or advertised but
successful.  Just the other day I learned about one on Reid Island
just west of Cortez Island at a regular Thursday night monthly
Vancouver Permaculture Meet Up  http://www.meetup.com/The-Vancouver-
Permaculture-Meetup-Group meeting.  Ask around, go to meetings where
you might meet people who have this interest or background. You'd be
amazed how many different neighbourhoods there are.  With a
community or neighbourhood of common interest you have a supportive
environment for permaculture.

 
Fred Morgan
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Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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What we did was to produce a crop that paid for the land. Yes, we have a lot of employees. (like 50+) but we have a lot of land too, now, nearly 800 acres. Year by year I get to do more for permaculture.

Lots of people like the idea of participating in something that generates revenue that is something other than putting their money in the stock market. We raise plantation trees to bring back rainforest (one generation of pioneer species to be the nursery for the rainforest). The revenue from this pays for the new lands and provides resources for our furniture factory and mill.

So, this meets the needs of the revenue to pay for the land and keep us from starving - and at the same time giving something back to those who own the trees.

In this way as well, we retained full control - we have plenty of socialization with 50 workers. 

One Biblical verse that always has made sense to me is "do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers". Whether you believe in the Bible or not, there is a lot of wisdom in that. Be very careful that whoever is a partner with you has the same ideas as you, and be very careful not to connect with someone who is more powerful than you (in resources, etc.) who doesn't think like you.

 
                    
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I just spent some time looking through the interwebs about your project, Fred. Sorry to hear about your roadbumps- getting clear on all the different jurisdictions involved in an enterprise like yours can have a steep learning curve with high attrition, statistically speaking- not just anyone can keep their head above water as they wade through that swamp. I did non-secured real estate development in Washington state for 3 years; I managed the General Partner (an  S-Corp) of a group of 11 LP's and LLC's who each owned  projects under $2m; we had 70+ investors, returned dividends of $2m annually on $17m collective holdings, all of it w/o securities. Washington law is likely different than Colorado in that regard, but in any case, just as in permaculture, a diversification of the production sources, unlike a monolithic corporate structure, made it allthe more like walking through a garden.

In short, our average annual return on this real estate was about 12% and our partnership contracts so well constructed that death, prolonged illness, division of shares disputes, state investigators and even earthquakes (We survived the '01 Nisqually Earthquake and actually paid for $2.2m in repairs and required upgrades, including billable hours, completely from insurance returns.  Natural Disasters didn't shake this business structure.

It didn't spring up overnight; the business was built for 18 years before i got there, slowly, methodically, by the owner of the S-Corps. he Learned by loosing everything and starting over twice during 12 years prior to starting his bussiness  v3.0.

Now he is retiring. I learned alot from him; perhaps I am too leary of difference in vision and energy at times, and by that disposition drive away potential partners...

however, some things he said last time we spoke were intriguing.

first, he commented that 12% annual returns was too high to be sustainable. he said for all the stability of his business, it was all the wrong model on the wrong table to begin with.

He called the real estate and wall street crash in 2002, and predicted it for 2008-2009.

when i asked him what was important now, what made good business sense, he said
"plant trees. and do it so they treat the water cycle."

I asked why he was concerned about water. Im a permie, right? but he's a real estate developer. almost no background in ecology, save for state permitting processes.

"people dont live longer now because we eat better, or because of better health care. itsw because we solved water borne diseases 100 years ago that we have a population boom- the artifically inflated food production and the medical 'advancements' are nothing if we cant protect water. and weve failed, from deforestation to ocean acidification. we need to plant trees and make it a living wage occupation."

hes half way home. he might not have the eco-details we have in our permie tool kit, but hes got his mind asking the right big picture questions.

Thanks for planting trees, Fred.

 
Fred Morgan
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The bumps just make it interesting. 

As I often say, I would feel more smug about what we are doing if I wasn't having so much fun doing it.
 
paul wheaton
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What about something that features a land owner leasing bits of land to folks?
 
Jami McBride
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Just to recap a bit -

earthgirl wrote:
I want to buy a small wooded parcel on which to build a strawbale cottage, plant a garden, and live peacefully and sustainably. I like the idea of an intentional community, but I also want to own my land and maintain a degree of independence. As I've been looking at lovely 5-acre parcels, the thought occurred that, with good, like-minded neighbors, I would really only need an acre or two to achieve my dream. If I could share a piece of land, it would cut costs dramatically (especially as I'm looking just outside of Seattle, which has gotten extremely expensive). Since the land I'm looking at is zoned at 5 acres and can't legally be split and sold, I'm wondering what my options are.


Seems to me Paul that leasing would be much like share-cropping, which is no way to live happily ever after or maintain a degree of independence.  As far as I have heard it keeps one dependent and not independent.  However, lease to own could be a win win.... Or like in the case of Sue and Jon, maybe a lease for much less than current market just to keep the land up and someone on it.

Zoned for 5 acre parcels is the standard of 'small' for country property.  So how about buying into a 5 acre parcel with like-minded others doing the same around you, and then working a private deal where they rent some of your land from you for this or that use.  This way you retain ownership, but they get use.  I know of a couple of situations like this where cattle are allowed grazing rights and meat is exchanged at the end of the year.  So in this case buying in with someone who could use more land than they can buy out right would be a win win deal for both of you.

It all comes back to one's neighbors - I like this idea of buying as a group, better than any other IC I've heard about.  For my way of thinking having like-minded neighbors who would turn a blind eye would be of the greatest benefit 

 
Fred Morgan
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paul wheaton wrote:
What about something that features a land owner leasing bits of land to folks?



Sometimes the best ideas come from the past. Sharecropping can work if you lay down the guidelines that they have to improve the soil, not hurt it. Basically, since you are benefiting from the improvements, that is what you get, but they can only continue as long as they continue to improve the soil, etc.

What you have to watch out for of course is people who take more than they give.

I would cheerfully allow people on our lands if I knew they would improve things and they could stay as long as they kept improving. The problem is, people get greedy and start to not worry about erosion and long term depletion of soils, or over grazing of animals, etc.
 
rose macaskie
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    Do you maybe need to do leadership courses if you are going to get involved with other people? SOme people love it and are good at it i think. if you aren't had you better jsut be cautiouse and maybe think of ways of learning.
      I used to imagine that sort of thing, leadership courses for example, could not really be usefull but with age i have learned that people really do have a lot to teach on things i did not suspect there was much to teach on.

      I like Fred Morgans advice on not getting connected to people who have more resources than you and have different ideas, more money and influence. I wish i had been told that as a child it would have made me feel as if i was justified in not trying to hard with those i knew would be hard for me.
    I would like to add to what he has said that i have seen people completely dominate others who were in partnership with them and had much more than them. I imagine people know when they can handle even those who have more than them, if you have a pretty good feeling that they are much tougher than you then you know you can't manage that particular person who has much more than you.

        It can be hard find out what other peoples ideas are you should have a sort of good interrogating practice to do so. I don't know where you get interrogation lesson get a rob with the police. you must notice if htey are evading straight conversation. i was not taught to interrogate people. or to mistrust those who werent giving an opinion on anything i was told that onceor twice  but should have been told harder you must not imagine people who aren't giving opinions are shy even if they look it there are shy people who give opinions i imagine.
    It is hard people don't even realise that others have not been educated like them, don't have the same opinions. If you are educated to think that you should stand hard on those who try to mess with you you don't even realise if they have been taught to give the other cheek such teaching seem so unlikely to you, so you think they are playing a deeper game or something. You don't realise there is anything to ask and they don't realise there is anything to tell.
    There is nothing for getting yourself to be unreal about what your chances are with others than when you start trying to be kind to others, it makes you forget to think of what the danger of knowing them is. If you are not sorry for them and they are mean you get the hell
out but if you are trying to look after them it can lead to forgiving all their bad treatment of you. agri rose macskie.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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There are some wisely-designed co-ops out there.

A famous example is Mondragon, out of Spain.

The Cheese Board, in Berkeley, CA, runs on similar principles.
 
                              
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Hi,
I am new to this group.  I am looking for people in the greater SEATTLE area to find land for a small ommunity, even if it is two or three.  Land with exisiting house ? or ? .
My idea is for each to own thier own but live by standards agreed apon.  I need to be close in but far away    want a  "foodscape" rather than landscape.  I am focusing on Woodinville, (for some reason I just cant get that area out of my mind.)  I am all about NON-TOXIC.  The idea of smaller homes with the same builder so less expensive but healthy materials, thinking prefab.  If this sounds good so far I would love to hear from you.
Not sure how the contact thing works.  Hope to hear from those of you that have posted they are looking for something similar in my area
Thanks
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I think a good place to start is with the books Creating a Life Together and Finding Community

And then visit ic.org where there are lists and lists of existing communities.
 
                          
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I'm working my way through Creating a Life Together and so far the one roadblock I see is the several hundred thousand dollars that you'd likely have to pay to start or buy into an ecovillage.  I think that rules out most of us from going that route unless you'd like to go into debt.

I have no debt, and I have a nest egg, but not nearly that much.  What I DON'T have is the ability to relocate fulltime to work on the site, and even if I did, my family just isn't large enough to maintain it.  Not counting my parents, it's just me and my 9 year old daughter.  So I was looking for some sort of co-housing (or doomplex I call it) arrangement where someone would be brought in as the immediate caretakers of the property and our family would eventually join them (when TSHTF basically) but otherwise only show up intermittently.  So I would be providing most or all of the initial capital and the other party would be putting in most of the sweat equity.

For the life of me I don't know how to find a party to volunteer for this sort of thing, or how the legalese would work, but it's the best plan I can come up with.  Splitting a parcel in half does not make the most efficient use of space.  You have two homes, two sets of permaculture zones, and so on.

The important thing I think for all permaculture homesteads is for the people involved to have a strong commitment to place.  Even someone like David Jacke (of Edible Forest Gardens) has had to move a couple times, which has hindered his ability to demonstrate what he writes about.  Sh*t happens, as they say.  But I don't think, going forward, starting over again and again is going to be possible.  I think there needs to be some hunkering down, which requires a different approach to life planning vs. our current highly mobile lifestyle.

The permaculture master-plan, as it were, extrapolates what will happen to the site over several decades as slow-growing trees slowly mature into the upper-canopy.  What it seems to ignore is whether the site will even have the commitment of its owners to continue that plan.  People are the weak link.

 
paul wheaton
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An excellent point. 

What would be a scenario that you think will work for you?




 
                          
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paul wheaton wrote:
What would be a scenario that you think will work for you?


I'm just kind of throwing this out there to see if anyone wants to play devil's advocate, tell me why it would never work.  I think the real trick is actually finding people.  It is in so many ways like dating, and as a single father, my social circle is constrained, to say the least.  It would be better if this arrangement fell out of the personal networking I've been doing for some time on the internet with other doomers.  I'm thinking of taking a formal PDC in May and maybe I could meet someone there.

 
paul wheaton
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So, let me throw a scenario at you.  And this scenario is loaded to the gills with all of my obnoxious arrogance.

Suppose that I have 100 acres and a very large house (I don't, but suppose I did).  I run things a very particular way.  You can look at the way I run things on this forum to get a clear idea of how I might run things.  Suppose I had a room for rent for a reasonable price.  And people were welcome to join me for most meals at my table.  It turns out that I had an arrangement for somebody who can cook to actually do the cooking.

Suppose further:  we have a lot of permaculture and the like going on.  And 90% of the food we eat comes from the land. 

So, rather than getting in for $50,000, you get in for first, last and deposit.  How long you stay is dependent on how smooth the relationship is between you and I. 

Does this have any appeal?



 
                          
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paul wheaton wrote:
So, let me throw a scenario at you.  And this scenario is loaded to the gills with all of my obnoxious arrogance.

Suppose that I have 100 acres and a very large house (I don't, but suppose I did).  I run things a very particular way.  You can look at the way I run things on this forum to get a clear idea of how I might run things.   Suppose I had a room for rent for a reasonable price.  And people were welcome to join me for most meals at my table.  It turns out that I had an arrangement for somebody who can cook to actually do the cooking.

Suppose further:  we have a lot of permaculture and the like going on.  And 90% of the food we eat comes from the land. 

So, rather than getting in for $50,000, you get in for first, last and deposit.   How long you stay is dependent on how smooth the relationship is between you and I. 

Does this have any appeal?



For me?  Only if I didn't have the nest egg.  I guess it's a personality flaw but what I'm looking for is an ounce of stability in a sea of instability.  The only stability I can actually grasp is to buy some land for cash.  Everything else involved in actually making the lifestyle change is a big logistical nightmare on my part, being a single parent, currently unemployed, and with generally unsympathetic elderly parents in tow who are doing everything in their power to lock me down in this run-down suburban house on 1/4 acre.  I know a lot of people have it far worse than I do, so I probably don't have much cause to complain.  For the time being I am trying to polish this turd of a property while fighting for every inch with my mom over the fate of the ornamental landscape and being generally miserable about my failed attempts to ignite a Transition initiative here.  I've just got this feeling that if I don't do something soon, the state of the world will become so chaotic that I won't really be in a position to do anything but hunker down permanently right here.  You don't want to look back and kick yourself for blowing your best opportunity through procrastination or a lack of guts.

 
Jeff Mathias
Posts: 125
Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
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paul wheaton wrote:
So, let me throw a scenario at you.  And this scenario is loaded to the gills with all of my obnoxious arrogance.

Suppose that I have 100 acres and a very large house (I don't, but suppose I did).  I run things a very particular way.  You can look at the way I run things on this forum to get a clear idea of how I might run things.   Suppose I had a room for rent for a reasonable price.  And people were welcome to join me for most meals at my table.  It turns out that I had an arrangement for somebody who can cook to actually do the cooking.

Suppose further:  we have a lot of permaculture and the like going on.  And 90% of the food we eat comes from the land. 

So, rather than getting in for $50,000, you get in for first, last and deposit.   How long you stay is dependent on how smooth the relationship is between you and I. 

Does this have any appeal?






Hi Paul,

Perhaps I am not looking at this the same as you, but all you really seem to have presented here is a modified rental situation that occurs on land using permaculture principals that are subject to your opinion alone. Now don't get me wrong from your point of view it might be a good situation. You have rental income to help out on your property, you might have a potential on-site employee and you hopefully get to live around people of similar mindsets. Obviously this is a good situation for some even from a renters point of view.

But if that person is another Paul Wheaton who is looking to have 100 acres and a very large house with which to practice their own version of permaculture on one day.... what benefit is there to this person?    Sure there are answers like knowledge, learning skills etc. and these are fine answers as far as they go. But what about the Paul Wheatons of the world who are ready to progress beyond on their own?

I have been watching this section of the forum with great interest as I am nearing a point in my life where I am ready to make a completely new start in life and I have been hoping to find some good ideas. It has helped me figure out what I am not interested in. But it has also given me some ideas of what I do want out of a living situation.

As I also have some money but not perhaps enough to buy outright I think what I would like to find is a piece of property in a county with many people of similar or like minds. I'd like to find perhaps an older person/couple who loves their land but cannot fully manage or keep up anymore. Something where I could pay a sum up front and have a place of my own with some land around it that I could do with as I wish (of course with all respect to the land and the owners) all while working with the owners to share crop etc.

I guess what I envision is something that benefits all parties. I would buy in say as a down payment to have a place to live on the property and some property I could use for my own. I would also work with the land owner to renew/step up etc. an already existing enterprise or work to get one going. We could split (negotiable) any profits and part of my half would go back to the land owner as payment in lieu of a mortgage. Over time I would take over more and more of the work/business/care of the land and the land owner could hopefully enjoy some of their retirement. One day in the future the land owner passes away and the land rightfully paid for over time by me becomes mine.

It would take the right people with open minds and of course the right contract to protect everyone but this is a situation that I feel is workable for both parties. I get a place to call my own and some land to work on for the future as well as a small part time income from the joint venture with the landowner and eventually I own the land. The land owner gets some up front cash as I move in, regular cash payments hopefully from the venture but probably also subsidized from any other income I pull in from other jobs/ventures, the right to get old and enjoy slowing down in life and a place to live out there life. Perhaps somewhere in there the agreed upon price is met and the land owner transfers the land to me, freeing them from even more debt/taxes while still having the right to live out their life in the place they made home.

Am I just dreaming?

Jeff
 
                
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Getting back to the OP's question, there are several land co-ops ("tenancy in common" in my community.  Some work well; some don't.  It depends a lot on the people.  Even in the ones that work well socially, there are some issues to consider, especially when it comes to real estate transactions.

The value of a share of one of these co-ops (typically one house and a designated portion of the land), is much less than the value of an equivalent house and land with clear title.  Great if you want to buy in; not so great if you want to sell out.  The reason is that buyers typically don't want to buy into the legal hassle of the joint ownership, so demand is low.

Just how much lower the value is is difficult to determine, even for the experts.  I know of one shareholder in a land co-op who needed his share evaluated.  He had great difficulty because none of the realtors or evaluators had enough experience with them to know.  The best they could do was quote him a value as if it were a clear title and then say that the actual value would be substantially less than that.

If you need a mortgage, it is going to be difficult to get one.  In order to get a mortgage, my friend had to get all his co-owners to co-sign onto his mortgage, something that took a lot of persuading because it exposed them to risk that was not really their business.  Lenders were reluctant to lend to him because of the joint ownership situation.  Even a mortgage broker eventually struck out finding him a mortgage, and he had to do his own research to find one.
 
Anna Spangle
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  This is something I have thought about, over and over, for years.
  At the 2008 WA Permie Convergence I posted a bulletin and asked around looking for people to share my land. I had a poster up at the Food Co-op in town for months.  I offered to teach skills. I offered a cottage. I fenced off an acre of land for such a person to use to start a CSA or whatever. (I did not try WWOOOF, since I am not really using the farm in a business way myself.) I must say I did not try super hard to get someone, but nothing has materialized yet.
  I guess I demanded too much and gave too little. I asked for "a couple of hours a week" of help and the cottage I was offering does not have electricity. (hell, for what you save on rent you could buy solar panels or a generator.) The point is really that no one was willing to grab an open opportunity --- when I think of all the opportunities I have missed in life I understand completely.
  I did find a community in Hoodsport, WA on the Intentional Communities website called Brave New Mountain. I have been corresponding with the one member, an extremely nice guy.
  Where we are now, we have 4 tillable acres, with sheep and goats on pasture, an old orchard and some permaculture forest garden. Its a good little subsistence farm and I am reluctant to leave its richness --- but the mortgage is murder! We are biking distance to Olympia, so we have community and a busline, and the kids have good educational opportunities.
  When I think about Climate Chaos I dont know where to build a life, where will be safe for my family.
  I think security in the future may depend less on climate and more on community.
  I believe if we want to thrive in a Peak Oil collapse we ought to start building those relationships and social permaculture NOW.
  I would love to start a community on my property. It is also possible we will sell up and live in an RV for awhile. There is still that opportunity in Hoodsport. Being enslaved to a mortgage is a terrible thing. We all ought to wise up and figure out a better way, while we are still free to do so.
  A migrating tribe of 12 like- minded people was written into our genes for two million years. Why cant we do it today? Anyone with experience knows twenty reasons why not!!!
 
                          
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Spanglefeathe wrote:
A migrating tribe of 12 like- minded people was written into our genes for two million years. Why cant we do it today?


Hunter-gatherers you mean?  That's a great plan, if we can just rid the planet of about 9 out of 10 humans first in order for there to be enough wild edibles to sustain us, unless you intend on subsisting on "long pork".  Would you like to play those odds?

Everybody's in a different financial situation.  Get out of debt first, then figure out what your options are.  Doomsteads with a mortgage aren't doomsteads, IMHO.  If everyone who had the money for land agreed on a joint arrangement with one other party who didn't, then it would help a lot of people out in the process.

Really what you're talking about is a bartering process.  People have different things to bring to the table as well as limitations.  The sum could be greater than its parts, but only if we work together rather than feel that we have to build and man our own personal Noah's Arks.

 
paul wheaton
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Yup, just another rental situation. 

I guess I am trying to paint a picture of some rental situations are better than others.

I once rented the same place for nine years. 

I have also heard of people renting the same spot for over 30 years. 

And .... if you think about it, any place you "buy" you still "rent" from the gub'mint.

I think it is wise to not trust where there is something so important.  Each person's own history has shown how people can seem really trustworthy, only to be screwed by them at some point.  An if you do find a property that is managed by a person of integrity - that person needs to deal with neighbors, goverment and the like that are a bit short of perfect integrity - being able to win the game of monopoly is a lot harder when you are the only player playing by the rules.  Does that one person have what it takes to do that? 

I once saw a childrens program where a princess was being rude to some people and king came and talked to her.  He asked her if she liked all of the advantages of her position.  Then he said something like "consider that we have this authority by the grace of the people.  They trust us.  They depend on our integrity.  If they lost faith in us, our fate would quickly take a turn for the worse.  Which is why we need to behave with the very best integrity every moment of every day."

I think that this is perfectly true.  And, I think, most people do not appreciate what a difficult path such a high level of integrity is.  And I think that most folks that find themselves in a position of authority would rather take an easier road.

So .... I like the idea of thousands of permaculture farms being managed by a person of integrity.  And then I can find one that is most aligned with me and my values and set up shop.  A rental situation. 

Some people talk about "you can stay here for free, but in exchange I require 20 hours a month of work" - well, that's rent isn't it?  Why not just say "the rent is $200 per month and I pay $10 per hour for help on the farm."  ?? 

So!  With the fictional picture I have painted, you could buy land outright and have the leverage of hundreds of books of law defining your relationship with the gub'mint so that you get the "freedom" to do what you want on your farm without getting kicked out.  Or, you can enter into some sort of relationship with an entity (one person or IC) that will interact with the gub'mint and you interact with the entity.  Then there are scenarios where you pay out big money to start followed by smaller monthly payments, or you pay nothing up front and then bigger monthly payments.

In once scenario, big money gets you more security. 

In another scenario, security comes from less money and depending on maintaining a good relationship with a group.

In another scenario, security comes from even less money and depending on maintaining a good relationship with an individual.

Such a crazy mix of information.  Sorry about lack of consistent thought.
 
Robert Ray
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Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
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I've been trying to find the link that I saw on HULU. I think it qualifies for land sharing.
Basically a couple in Portland was going to residences and for a fee and part of the harvets would garden the residents backyard.
Depending on the number of subscribers it could be profitable and sounded interesting.

Found the link      www.hulu.com/watch/100779/cooking-up-a-story-organic-foods-backyard-agriculture
 
Marianne Cicala
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We do have 100 acres and a house with a dog trot between the main house and our private bed/bath etc. The farm got to be more than the 2 of us can manage as we expand and convert more and more to permaculture. We did find what hopefully will be a very workable and fair relationship with our partner/intern.

We interviewed and met with several folks and found what we think is a great match. There's now a guy that moved in, helps on the farm, learning some stuff and after 2 years, we will "gift" him acreage for his use for his entire lifetime. He's making a huge difference in our workload and is truly allowing far more to be done in less time. In return he has room/board and a small monthly stipend. Not sure if this would qualify as land sharing, but we all share chores as well as meals.
I know this is not what most people are looking for, but it seemed like something that others may find attractive. It was the fairest thing I could come up to allow someone to participate in our adventures and end up with something tangible in return. For him, spending a couple years learning & working and then be given his own dirt forever in exchange for our continued partnership seemed pretty fair too.
 
lyla moore
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Frank, Will, and I have found land in New Mexico. We are considering a tenancy in common as our frame work. We plan to farm about 30 acres as a community effort.
 
jago pearce
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This thread really goes to the crux of the problem. I really hope to see a many good setups one day.


What Harold Waldock writes about being social is totally where I am now (thank you Paul). I know places I can buy but I would be alone - impossible.
Unfortunately I have few friends I know of who are good candidates, only a few aquaintances. This is due to my lifestyle working away.

What I am looking for is a small piece of land next to community land. That is all for the moment.
If the budget was low enough it could be outside of Europe but ideally it would be inside Europe so I can run this while working and so take very little risk.

I have found some projects that offer the community is a company - you own company shares to live there setup but I am suspicious of this and it is interesting that Diana Christian mentions that 90% of these projects fail. It is also useful to note "Don't partner with someone more powerful than you that doesn't think like you" - that is exactly the feeling that I have from the projects I have enquired about.

One projects wants me to complete a study course at cost in order to get to know me. After this I can then purchase the ability to live there for 1 month for €1000/yr or €20,000 to have it as a full time home! Obviously I don't want to invest any time in a course without knowing fully on the details of that LLC. Because they do not provide contracts on their website and don't discuss this kind of detail I am suspicious. On the one hand they are cautious and have a very industrious philosopy and team, but needing to ask for legal detail has put me off.

Does anyone know of a project in Europe (preferrably somewhere as south as possible and on the Atlantic coast) with a more simple (KISS keep it simple stupid) view of land division? I cannot find any on ic.org

"I think there needs to be some hunkering down, which requires a different approach to life planning vs. our current highly mobile lifestyle."
^
This is very relevent to me. I have a mobile life... but after 6 years of living out of a suitcase nowhere feels like home and I'm looking for that base.

"The only stability I can actually grasp is to buy some land for cash."
^ this is exactly it for me too. I find it hard to grasp the shared LLC as stability. There is a link in the mind between territory and emotion, for better or worse. Like it or not projects need to acknowledge this. I would hope that by my simple approach of dividing the land into single and a shared space that the 2 approaches can be matched.
 
Lf London
Posts: 96
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
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High 5 to Paul, re: recent conversation

This is a very important topic for me as I have 6.2 acres in permaculture market farm, finely tuned but weedy by design, that I want to preserve for perpetuity. I would like 1) to retain ownership of my property 2) share it with like minded folks who could live here and, utilizing numerous and diverse resources I have here, generate income for themselves while enjoying life at an idyllic country retreat 11 miles from a college town, natural food stores and market opportunities for goods and services

I would really be interested in feedback about this concept and especially from anyone who might be interested in participating
in my own small permaculture/market farming/crafts community

Lawrence London
lfljvenaura@gmail.com
 
Josh Johann
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Spanglefeathe Hatfield wrote: 
  I think security in the future may depend less on climate and more on community.
  I believe if we want to thrive in a Peak Oil collapse we ought to start building those relationships and social permaculture NOW.
  I would love to start a community on my property. It is also possible we will sell up and live in an RV for awhile. There is still that opportunity in Hoodsport. Being enslaved to a mortgage is a terrible thing. We all ought to wise up and figure out a better way, while we are still free to do so.
  A migrating tribe of 12 like- minded people was written into our genes for two million years. Why cant we do it today? Anyone with experience knows twenty reasons why not!!!


I'll put in my own two cents for what it is worth.
Our tribal anchesters lived to the ripe old age of about 35 years old.
Most of the rules were enforced using 'force'.
Many remains found showed signs of blunt trauma.
Our anchestors did'nt fight over oil or natural gas or a 'political idealogy' for the most part, they fought over berry bushes and fishing/hunting grounds.
So, IMHO, our earthy ancestors were not all sunshine and 'I'm ok, your ok.'.
So, when 12 members of one tribe met and there was competition with 12 members of another tribe..there was conflict.

Our species is historically territorial and has not changed alot since we were on the tundra chucking a dart from an atlatl at a bison.
Today we are 'civilized'..we don't use spears or atlatls, we use cruise missiles.

That being said, 'like minded' only goes so far.

The pioneers were 'like minded' when they came across the United States, but only to a point (in most cases) when they got to their destination, they resumed their own lives, beliefs and political systems.

Also 'like minded' can make a community stagnant.
What 'if' a vegan community needs a mechanic?..do they pass up a great mechanic because he/she eats meat?
How about religous views?
Does the community pass up a great construction worker because he/she is non-religous or is religous?
How about politicial view points?
Does a left leaning group pass up a great healer because he/she is right leaning or vice versa?
Or, if the group rejects motor vehicles on the property or even driving them, do they reject a person who is great at alternative energy and electrical engineering because he wants drive his 4WD pickup and Harley?

Where do new ideas come from?
Very simply, a vast array of people from all walks of life or the group becomes stagnant.

Then there is the problem of 'life happens'.
Divorce, change of diet, change of political views, change of careers, loss of a job and income..etc..etc..

Then there is the legal aspects.
If a person has to leave the group because his/her ideals or life goals have changed; does he/she get compensation for work?..materials?..time?

I think the Amish probably have the best system..they are a 'community' but their land is the private property of the family.
The 'bond' is their faith view.
But even then, there can be conflict.

Perhaps the same model could be made based on self reliance, permaculture etc..
The reality is IMHO, 'like minded' only goes so far and people change in life.
And that room for change must not only be made within the 'community', but expected.
The failure of IC's to accept 'different' or even 'change', and not making room for that change, is IMHO, a major reason for the high failure rate of IC's.

Personally, I'm a firm believer that high fences make for good neighbors.
But that is just my own opinion.




 
Greta Fields
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Hi hatfield [I am wondering if you are kin to all the Ky hatfields around me.]
I have been racking my brain trying to figure out how to shae land fairly. I read Diana Christian's book, which is superb and describes ways that people have solved the problem of people sharing and paying for land.
I am looking into the possibility of creating a private, revokable land trust. I could keep it revokable until I die, when it would become irrevocable. I wanted it to be revokable in case some non-profit group tried to stripmine my land or something. You can't trust university land trusts, which are often controlled ultimately by businessmen wanting to exploit any land trusts that the university is supposed to be protecting.
My other idea is to lease a permanent home or house to somebody in exchange for their assuming a permanent role in a community. You would have a permanent home as long as you wanted it then, but if you left, the land would remain with that communiuty.
By role, I mean passion, career.....not just "a job". If you could stay on my land and fulfill your life's dream, you are not going to want to leave, but you are also going to be wanting a HOME there. The problem is matching other people's dreams up with your own. The problem is to match people upwith the mission and vision of your communityh, I think.
Diana Christian points this out too, that the main cause of failure of communities is when people fail to share the same vision. Being a vegetarian, for ex., I am not going to get along well with somebody raising grass fed beef cattle. When I find somebody who can fulfill their life's dream on my land, and it is compatible with myh life's dream, we will be able to shae the land and not argue.
 
Claire Gardner
Posts: 48
Location: Idaho
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Been musing about this. We bought 17+ acres, already legally split. We've toyed with the idea of share-cropping, land leases, owner fiance - different ways to get a neighbor we want without getting our lives entwined. We also want to make sure our will is faithfully executed, we have one child very interested in permaculture, aquaponics, farming and self reliance. The other is an attorney who would sell it to a developer or fracking company or whoever waved cash... in the blink of an eye. People have told me I need to look into trusts, I have yet to do so but I thought maybe the concept could apply to a land share, too.
 
Greta Fields
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Chris,
I don't know anything about share cropping etc.,and I haven't talked to an attorney about land trusts yet. I read one thing I liked....that there is such a thing as a revokable land trust. This would be good, if you set up a trust, but it could be revoked if other people violated the iuntent of the trust. I am afraid to putmy land in a university trust, for ex., because universities are controlled in Ky by coal miners and other wealthy businessmen and real estate people who just figure out creative ways to exploit the land you give the university.
Also, you have to be careful with conservation easements/ In this this state, the legislature approved with with built-in loopholes allowing miners to go on your property! A lawyer from anotehr state in the Nature CConservancy warned me not to use a conservation easement in Ky.
 
Krystina Szabo
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I have also wrestled with this question. I have been unable to find anyone likeminded who is interested in taking on any responsibility or anything permanent here in Virginia. So I think I'll sell the 200 acres and move. Either buy property or find another person with property set up. It's not about money for me. It's about how I can find likeminded person(s) with whom to share the responsibility of gardening, livestock, horses, etc. and also to share the joy of cooking great food, pets, and horseback riding, etc..... Right now a homeless friend is staying in exchange for feeding the pets when I'm gone. Not the most desirable. Next time, if I own the property, it will be a completely separate living space and a simple work for board agreement, if I cannot find anyone to dream with. Or I will try to find someone who Lives the Dream and will give me the opportunity to share. I am too frustrated to be the originator of The Dream right now, because I have been totally put off by others. No one even wants to just come to the country to ride my horses with me, for free. Much less help feed. So the big problem as I see it is not the machinations. (I have a landholding LLC, so what) It's the Finding Someone(s). I have the farm. I have the LLC. I have everything but no Someone(s) with which to share the bounty.... because it involves sharing the sweat. So I just can't figure out how that works for others. Really.

 
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