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Buying my first farm land/ home... Need advice :/  RSS feed

 
David Myers
Posts: 7
Location: Buffalo, NY
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Hello Folks! Would love some advice!

My wife and I are looking to buy/ build our new home. We live in the Buffalo, NY area. My dream for years now is to have a permaculture farm. We are looking for our first piece of property. My wife is a young doctor/ resident so she has to travel to the hospital in the City for insanely long work days. The point is, we can't live too far from the city.
So much of Erie county's farm land has been lost or the price has become very high due to suburban sprawl.

My company is a native/ edible/ ecological landscaping business. My thoughts are, that I can use my home as combination demo/ nursery/ small farm.

This is what I want to do with the land:

1. Design and Install my home landscaping in a large 8 acre suburban/ rural lot to educate the community/ potential customers about how to live more sustainably.
2. Grow/ store nursery plants I can use for my clients' projects.
3. Set up a small 5-6 acre forest garden/ agro forest to grow hard-to-find or valuable food for high end local restaurants. (mushrooms, ginseng, pawpaws, nuts, ducks...)
4. The ultimate goal could be to potentially wean myself off landscaping work and focus entirely on advancing my permaculture farm.

The big question: Is this doable on 8 acres of land with a high price tag, around $10,000 per acre? Across the street from this land there is about 53 acres of land for sale for only $125,000 but most of it is wetland (not state or federally registered, but not suitable for building McMansions) could I potentially use that land for permaculture farming? ( I am thinking Sambucus, PawPaw... I would have to do some research on that one)

The perk: Being in this neighborhood would make my wife happy! This land is right on the edge of my home town and I can raise my family in the same neighborhood, and my kids could go to the same High School I did. This proximity is a HUGE help for me to compromise with my wife.

Thank you in advance permies!!!
 
Andy Reed
Posts: 85
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I recall someone asking Lawton about wetlands and he was very positive about them. His idea was that you create ponds and hills in the wetland, ponds can be used for aquaculture, hills for plants. I can't remember where I read or watched that, so no link sorry.

 
Ann Torrence
steward
Posts: 1191
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
110
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Questions to ask on the zoning: can you have a business? Can you have a farm business? Do you need parking? Can you put in a commercial kitchen and do value-added products? Can you have employees on-site? How much land do you need in production for agricultural property tax exemptions? I'd check very carefully about wetlands rules, just because it's not a registered site, does that mean there aren't regulations that prevent you from doing earthworks? I've heard in Washington state, for example, you can kiss your property rights good-bye if a great blue heron lands on your place.

Another way to evaluate the land cost is this: how much would it cost for a comparable house in the city that would satisfy the spouse plus rent or buy another space to do your business? How much more are the places you are looking at and can you come up with the cash flow to cover it in x years with your permaculture products? Do you need to cover it? Can you consider the extra land costs as part of your retirement portfolio? If you just bought a house in town, it wouldn't generate any revenue, just cost money.

Being closer to town has advantages WRT farmers markets, CSAs, clients, etc. In your area, I'd want land on a winery trail if I were looking to sell any agricultural products, just for the traffic. Teaming up with a winery or cidery to sell your products (gift-baskets anyone?) would be even better. Getting listed on one of those tourist maps would be huge.

Your other factors are important too: schools, kids, family connections are important and marital harmony trumps all.


 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
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I'd buy the wetlands! (If there's potential for earthworks) if you can make the numbers work with your wife's income and your landscaping, go for the land you want. Weaning might take time but you can be laying the groundwork for it right away.

Raising kids on a farm beats raising them in the city by a long shot. It sounds like the neighborhood is what you wish for.

 
David Myers
Posts: 7
Location: Buffalo, NY
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Thank you very much for all this advice. Ann, I will definitely do my research about the land and keep you guys posted.

much love,

David Scott Myers
 
John Pollard
Posts: 125
Location: Ozarks
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You say most of the 53 acres is wetland. If 8 of it is not then it may be a no brainer because you get what the other property offered plus 45 acres. Even at twice the total price, 2k compared to 10k an acre is a big difference. If it's not an official declared wetland, I'm thinking it's not truly a wetland based on varieties of plants and wildlife on it which is the real definition of a wetland and it's maybe just a low, wet property which could be filled over time.
My sister had a house in a subdivision with a 1/4 acre muckhole in the back but that hole was a declared wetland based on species so nothing could be done within a certain distance from it. Perhaps it wasn't declared until the subdivision was going through permitting which may be a concern for the 53 acres. The first time you get a permit, are they going to declare the whole thing a wetland and not allow you to do anything? I would think in your area that most any true wetland would have been found and declared but who knows. Some research is in order.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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Even if most of the wetland is unusable for farming, it's a great big zone 5. Species diversity! If your useable space is on the small side you can farm intensively. Think of what urban farmers do with a quarter acre!
 
Ann Torrence
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Posts: 1191
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
110
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Wetlands are cool, but evaluate the tax liability for land you might not be able to use. Permie implies permanent. 30-40-50 years of taxes on +40 acres you can't use, that is something to consider carefully. Not saying it's wrong, just each one of us needs to ask whether it is right for our families' future.

PS I might ask the seller if s/he will subdivide the 50 acres down to 2 parcels. Buy one parcel at market rates, buy the other as a zone 5, at zone 5 rates.
 
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