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Land Access

Notes and documents shared or discussed during the Sept. 30, 2011 afternoon working session on Land Access for new farmers.

Land Access session notes (PDF)

Helpful documents shared (all in PDF format):

  • Lease Agreement Guide – by Deb Heleba, David Major and Bill Snow, 8 pgs. Nice shorter summary of considerations for landowners and landseekers, elements of a lease, and types of agreements.
  • Land for Good leasing modules – by Kathy Ruhf, Bob Bernstein, Deb Heleba, and Annette Higby. These 4 modules were designed to be completed online by New England farmers considering leasing farmland. Modules include deciding whether you’re ready to lease, types of leases, what’s in a lease, and lease negotiation and management.
  • Managing Landlord-Tenant Relationships – 4 pg fact sheet from Ohio State University. Focuses on successfully managing the already established relationship between landowner and tenant farmer.
  • Farmland Tenure and Leasing Legal Guide – by Annette Higby, 15 pgs. Written as one chapter in a longer business guide for farmers in VT. Covers lease checklists, essential components of a lease, what to do about soil improvement and capital investments in the property, and considerations for both landowners and tenant farmers.
  • Greenhorns Compendium of Land Access Fact Sheets and Resources – compiled by the Greenhorns, includes many of the above resources along with dozens more gleaned from organizations and websites across the country.


There are a lot of exciting new and ongoing initiatives in the Northeast to connect new farmers with land. Some of these are examining innovative ways for farmers to gain access, gain equity, and/or keep land affordable. Please check out the “What Organizations Are Doing” section of the notes posted above.

The group was very interested in developing a protocol for dealing with the barrage of requests that dozens of disparate groups around the region each receive from both landowners and landseekers. We’d like to be more efficient at dealing with these requests while also making sure we’re giving people the best information and referrals. Several ideas emerged for addressing this issue; including a unified land listing portal that would refer people to local organizations listing and linking farmland in each local area, and developing resource packets to send to landowners and landseekers upon first contact. The Cornell Small Farms Program will pursue this idea of a land listing portal in future grant applications.