Welcome to a toolbox for farmers looking to access farmland. If you’re a beginning farmer exploring your options to get onto land, or an established farmer ready to expand, relocate or rethink your land situation, this toolbox offers guides, worksheets, articles and other resources to inform your decision-making and guide your planning and search for farmland. If you are not yet farming, you’ll want to prepare and develop a plan before you even begin searching for land. Materials are most relevant to farming and farms in New England, but many may apply elsewhere.
Resources are organized by topic:
Where to Start if you don’t have (much) farming experience – important first steps for new & beginning farmers
Develop your land access plan – examine your farming goals & current situation
Explore strategies to access farmland – methods to examine before starting your search
Consider leasing, purchasing & financing options – is owning or leasing right for you?
Search for land using farm link programs – customize your search area & connect with landowners
Assess land & farm infrastructure – how to sort through & determine your needs
indicates Land For Good authored resource
Where to Start if you don’t have (much) farming experience
Powerful website to help you generate a draft business plan with customized templates and sample business plans for ideas. University of Minnesota.
- New Farmers Discovery Tool.
Personalized search for new farmers, women in agriculture, young farmers, veterans, and new generation seeking land. USDA.
Programs, resources and comprehensive library to help you get started farming, as well as tools to help more seasoned producers succeed. University of Minnesota, funded by USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant program (BFRDP).
Develop your land access plan
- Where Do I Start? Acquiring Land To Farm.
Short worksheet focusing on big picture thinking and a framework to examine farming goals, current situation, and other considerations.
- Acquiring Your Farm 2.0,
Online tutorial for farm seekers with lessons and worksheets on seven land access topics to help you assess your situation and systematically develop an action plan.
- Finding Your Farm: Necessary, Desirable, Optional Worksheet.
Worksheet to help you sort through what you really need, and create a timeline.
- Farm Access Methods Guide.
Decision guide that stands out in its organized and practical way of understanding and assessing land access methods.
- Farm Access Decision Tool.
Summary and companion piece to Farm Access Methods Guide to help you compare methods and make informed decisions.
- Successfully Acquiring Your Farmland.
Article focuses on what to consider to successfully acquire your land, written for the Beginning Farmer Network of Massachusetts.
- Finding, Assessing, and Securing Farmland.
Plain language guide to help you understand the process of locating and securing farmland with clear, simple, and easy to understand text to increase comprehension and reduce misunderstandings. New Entry Sustainable Farming Project.
Explore strategies to access farmland
- Farmland Access in Urban Settings.
Suggestions, examples, and innovative models to help farmers negotiate land to farm in and around cities.
- Accessing Farmland Together.
Guidebook and decision tool if considering farming as a group; sometimes called collaborative farming, cooperative farming, or collective farming.
- Access to Land.
Article about farmland tenure and access. The Natural Farmer (Winter 2002-2003)
- Public Land For Farming.
- Article with examples of farming on public, state, and municipal land. The Natural Farmer (Spring 2016)
- Cooperative Holding of Land.
Chapter in Cooperative Farming explains the methods by which farmers can hold land together. Greenhorns.
- Successful Farming on a Land Cooperative.
One farmer’s story of a successful cooperative venture.
- Finding Farmland: A Farmer’s Guide to Working with Land Trusts.
A farmer’s perspective on negotiating good agreements. National Young Farmers Coalition.
- Land access strategies and land access stories.
Inspiring farmer and farmland profiles from across the US and abroad. Agrarian Trust.
- Farmland Access Legal Toolkit.
Lots of readable information. Vermont Law School, Center for Agriculture and Food Systems.
- New Entry Sustainable Farming Project (MA)
Website with resources, workshops, apprentice programs, and trainings.
- UVM Extension New Farmer Project website and Land Access and Tenure Toolshed. (VT)
Chock full of relevant resources. University of Vermont.
- Webinar: Finding Your Farm (NH)
Explore ways new farmers can find available farm properties in New Hampshire, and options that may be available to aquire farm real estate such as leasing, a purchase, or other innovative ways. UNH Extension.
- Finding Land to Farm: Six ways to Secure Farmland.
A cartoon-illustrated guide great for the basics and as a teaching tool. The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service – ATTRA.
- Holding Ground: A Guide to Northeast Farmland Tenure and Stewardship.
A comprehensive classic, also available in print. Purchase at New England Small Farm Institute.
- More Land Access Resources.
Links to many practical, and academic items on a wide range of topics related to land access. Greenhorns
Consider leasing, purchasing & financing options
- Leasing Toolbox.
Numerous resources for farmers and landowners who are thinking about leasing land, or who want to improve their lease arrangement.
- Learning to Love a Farmland Lease.
Article highlights the benefits of leasing and tools to support your lease.
- Webinar: Affording Farmland.
Learn the mechanics behind accessing and affording farmland, from the most basic lease or purchase, to some of the more innovative methods farmers are using to secure their land tenure.
- Affording Our Land.
Financial literacy guidebook on various land access methods for new farmers. Greenhorns.
- Finding Farmland Calculator.
Mortgage calculator for determining financing options and creditworthiness when buying farmland. National Young Farmers Coalition
- Finding a Farm to Buy or Lease.
Basic information with resources specific to New York State. Cornell Small Farms Program, Northeast Beginning Farmers Project.
- Equity Trust.
National non-profit organization helping communities to gain ownership interests in land and other local resources, as well as alternative ownership structures for farms.
- Financing a Farmland Purchase: Legal Basics for Traditional and Non-traditional Farmland Purchases.
Guide explores common financing strategies that can be used to finance a farmland purchase. Farm Commons.
Search for land using farm link programs
- New England Farmland Finder.
Free website to post or search for farm properties for sale or lease, covering all six New England states.
- New England Farm Link Program Guide.
Guide explains New England’s four farm link programs – Vermont Land Link, Maine Farm Link, Connecticut Farm Link and New England Farmland Finder – and what they offer.
- New England Farm Link Collaborative.
Organizations helping build awareness, farmer and landowner readiness, and connections among farm seekers, farmers and landowners of all types in all New England states.
- Additional Strategies To Find Farmland.
Tip sheet for preparing for your land search. Your chances of success are greater if you use a multi-pronged approach.
- Webinar: Conducting a Farmland Search.
Understand the process, strategies, and tools available as you search for farmland including farm linking sites, soil analysis, affordability calculations, and methods for evaluating land and infrastructure.
If you are looking for property outside of New England, visit American Farmland Trust’s national list of farm link programs.
Assess land & farm infrastructure
- Farm Evaluation Checklist.
Checklist of considerations for location, land, infrastructure, climate and housing.
- Google My Maps tutorial.
Tips from our staff to create custom maps and easily calculate acreage to assess properties, look at boundaries, etc.
- Area Calculator Tool.
Useful tools to calculate the area of a parcel or field. Google Maps or PlaniMeter by ACME.
- How to Determine Land Area and Distance With Your Smartphone
Article from On Pasture about how to use GeoMeasure, an app for iOS and Android smartphones.
- NRCS Web Soil Survey.
Website considered the single authoritative source of soil survey information. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. See also Using the NRCS Web Pages to Get Soils Information, a guide for using NRCS Web Soil Survey website. Maryland FarmLINK Guide.
- UC Davis SoilWeb.
Interactive map allows you to explore USDA-National Cooperative Soil Survey data for locations throughout most of the US. UC Davis, NRCS. See also this introduction to the tool with tips from our staff.
- Vermont Natural Resources Atlas.
Geographic information about the Vermont’s environmental features and sites. Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. See also this introduction to the tool with tips from our staff, or see our full tutorial.
New Hampshire’s Statewide Geographic Information System of topographic maps including soils, flooding hazards, water resources, and more. University of New Hampshire. See also this introduction to the tool with tips from our staff.
- RIDEM Environmental Resource Map in the RIDEM Map Room.
Interactive map resources viewable through the ArcGIS Online map viewer. Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.
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