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Suggestions on how to convince a church to let us farm the land they own  RSS feed

 
Danice Gregorowicz
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Location: Maryland, for now
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There is a bit of land that is now an overgrown abandoned christmas tree farm. It was purchased to build homes on but there is protected marsh land across the road, it is now owned by a Presbyterian church group located in closer to the city. Nothing has happened with this land for years, we don't have the money to buy but we would love to make this a productive farm again. We love the idea of bringing back the christmas trees but of also expanding to include fruit or animals.

I just don't know how to go about convincing this church group that they want us to live on this property and make it beautiful again and then theres the possibility that we could make money from this potential farm. What happens if we are able to sell the trees and various fruits, does the church get some or all of the proceeds?

Any suggestions or experiences would be much appreciated. I haven't found any related threads, if anyone has links I will gladly read any and all recommendations.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.
-- Leviticus 19:10


Point out to them that the poor and strangers need more than Christmas tree needles to glean. Maybe if you planted a few plum trees, some apples, some blueberries in the shady spots, strawberries for a ground cover, a few herbs here and there, then the poor would have something to glean.
 
nathan luedtke
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Do you know anyone from the church? If you do, ask them what would be a good way to make the proposal. If not, contact the church office and inform them that you are interested in this project and ask what would be the best way to proceed.

Most Presbyterian churches are actually quite organized, with admin policies and committees etc. So there is probably a formal procedure that you'll have to go through involving a memorandum of understanding which will describe responsibilities and obligations of each party, insurances, indemnifications, etc.

Most churches are very concerned with limiting their liability, so it's unlikely that they would allow you to reside on the land. But there is a LOT of precedent of churches hosting community gardens on their lands, so you might see succes with that tactic.
 
allen lumley
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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- though out most of the south, all campgrounds have a local camp manager and even hours that the campground is open. This is a foreign concept to most people
about the Mason-Dixon but is other wise common!

I would take the position that I wanted to have a meeting to decide if I could work with the members of the church - BEFORE I made my proposal- and then smooze
the hell out of them and ask what they would want -

Ideally they can be convinced that you living on the property reduces the churches liability ! for the craft ! Big AL
 
wayne stephen
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Churches have tax free status as long as they stay within that realm . That land is more than likely slated for ministrial purposes . Things get complicated , but the way I understand it is the land could even be sold at profit but only to another tax free religious organization . If they sold or leased it at a profit to a farmer or subdivider they venture into laymans land .
 
Danice Gregorowicz
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Location: Maryland, for now
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Thank you all for your input. Would selling the potential fruit/christmas trees/veggies for a minimum donation amount and the money goes to the church be a way around them leasing land to someone? But they also have to maintain the crops so we would need to get something back, maybe a prearranged amount to keep up with the machines and necessities of farming.
 
Angelika Maier
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I can imagine that the church gives the land to operate a community garden for vegetables and fruit open to church members and non members, but I imagine it is difficult to give it to a single person or family, as it belongs to everyone. That said you might want t gather some gardeners together.
 
John Saltveit
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Why don't you propose to lead a group and invite all church members to be on the committee of how to grow edible food in a Christian way? Call the food bank and see what they would want and grow the rest for you/church members.
John S
PDX OR
 
Angelika Maier
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You will get donations from local businesses banks etc.
 
Adam Moore
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Location: Mansfield, Ohio Zone 5b percip 44"
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If you do get permission make sure you have a strong contract in writing. American Christian churches are run like a buisness and can be very fickle as leadership changes over the years. I would not suggest putting yourself at risk trusting in any benevolent expectation. Just like fences, contracts make good neighbors. Even if you can get the support of the leaders they will still most likely need to sell it to their congregation (think shareholders). Give them the ammo they need like offering to give away a certain percentage of your produce to their food bank (if they have one) or something like that. If they don't have a food bank then maybe they can start one! Christian scripture has a strong leaning to helping the poor so I would push that angle as opposed to paying rent for the property or giving produce to their members for payment of using the land.

Also, here in Ohio I do know of a church that rented out their parsonage. Their profits were still considered tax exempt as far as I know. I also know of churches that rent out their chapels for weddings and gyms for banquets etc. So if you do decide on paying to rent the land it probably will not be a problem on the church's side.
 
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