My partner and I currently rent 7 acres of land in Northern California. Our landlord had mentioned the possibility of selling the property within the next few years, but has now recently decided to sell much sooner (i.e., within the next few months to a year). While the property is considered residential, not "agricultural", the owner granted us permission to farm here and over the last two years, we have since put in a significant amount of infrastructure, including fencing and housing for goats, poultry and cows , as well as a greenhouse and garden area, from which we are already making a profit. We love it here, and cannot bear the thought of having to part with our animals or this land. So, with that in mind, we are currently scrambling to secure any financial resources possible that may enable us to make the purchase. We are both in our late twenties, have a history of working in agriculture, good credit scores and decent income. Does anyone have experience with or suggestions for grants or loans for beginning farmers? I have done a bit of research of into USDA micro loans. Are there any other resources out there? Given time constraints, we are less prepared to make a purchase than I would have liked, so any advice regarding financial options would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for your help!
Hi Sara, I don't know if it even exists in your area, but in Europe, there are several organisations that buy land for organic farmers and lease it to them for their career. I know at least four (covering belgium, netherlands and France and have heard about one in Italy too.
There is a youtube docu on this topic but I do not remember the name so I can't check if they went to the other side of the ocean
Anyways, if you know of a similar organisation, I'd try to get in contact with them if you want to build a commercial farm.
If you are selling produce, you might manage a crowdfunding to get some of the money from your customers? If you try this, I would make sure I have a price for the land before you start. Eg, you buy the land on the premise that you can get the money together. If you fail, the owner can sell to someone else. Be sure to put an expire date if you try this way!
I would ask the owner if he would consider carrying the loan. Considering there is virtually no return on invested money, if you offer a couple of points more than banks are getting, even with no or low down payment it may be attractive enough to the owner. If he can't do that long term consider adding a balloon payment of a couple thousand yearly or in several years a substantial balloon payment. Just make sure you can cover whatever you promise get it all in writing, and use a title company.
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