Whether they offer listing, linking or matching services, the bottom line for all “farm link” programs is helping beginning farmers and other farm seekers as well as farmland owners. And, the most successful farmland matches are built on relationships between land seekers and farmers or landowners who are well prepared, informed and supported. Read our FAQ on farm linking.
Recently 38 farm seekers and landowners had a chance to meet face-to-face with each other at a summer farm linking event in Maine. The FarmLink Mixer in Benton, ME was sponsored by Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) and featured an advisor panel that included our Maine Field Agent, Jo Barrett; Gary Anderson, University of Maine Extension; and Jerry Bley, Creative Conservation.
Land seekers and landowners first shared their challenges associated searching for farmland or a farmer. The ‘speed dating’ portion of the event allowed land seekers to connect directly with landowners, share information about their farm, vision and goals, and trade contact information. This mixer enabled farmers and landowners to meet and begin a dialogue that could lead to a future match.
bringing people together in a room for a Speed-Linking event attempts to bring back some old ways, when farmers of different generations mingled at Grange suppers and shared information about whose land was available and for what price.
– Mary Pols, Portland Press Herald 3-25-14
A top problem for beginning farmers especially is access to farmland. And while non-farming landowners already make up 90% of the 20,000 landowners that lease farmland in New England, there are more private and public landowners who want to support farming and food security by making land available. Non-farming owners of farmland need support to be successful farm landlords.
That’s why LFG partners with MFT and Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) to do more than just help farmers and landowners find each other. LFG Field Agent Jo Barrett is intimately involved with the MOFGA Journeypersons program (the oldest in the country), participating in applicant screening and providing land access readiness training and support. And when MFT seeks to conserve and transfer farmland to new owners as part of its Maine Farmlink program, Jo is frequently brought in to help with the development of tenure agreements.
Last fall, MFT, Land For Good and MOFGA collaborated with the Maine Agricultural Mediation Program on a presentation about using negotiations skills for successful land linking. As part of the FarmLink Mixer, Elaine Bourne, of Maine Agricultural Mediation Program, gave an in-depth presentation on the same topic.
Land For Good partners with organizations like Maine Farmland Trust and MOFGA to help build successful land links. Land For Good also helps manage the New England Farmland Finder, a website created to help New England’s farm seekers and farm property holders find each other, along with a consortium of member organizations and agencies.
More about farm linking in our region
- How To Link To Land in Vermont’s Local Banquet
- Rhode Island Land Linking Program: Background Research and Policy Analysis A report by Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic
- Land Link Programs in the Northeast US: A program assessment and lessons learned
Farm linking programs – New England
- New England Farmland Finder
- Connecticut FarmLink
- Maine FarmLink
- New Entry Sustainable Farming Project Farmland Matching Service (Eastern MA)
- Vermont FarmLink
Farm linking programs – beyond New England