Leasing Farmland

Access to affordable tillable farmland and pasture is one of the primary barriers for next-generation farmers and a healthy evolution of the agricultural economy in the Virginia Piedmont. This challenge has produced some innovative partnerships between landowners and beginning farmers.

LEASING STORIES

In order to help potential next-generation farmers, and non-farming landowners who are interested in leasing their land, The Piedmont Environmental Council has put together “Finding a Place to Grow: How the Next Generation is Gaining Access to Farmland”, which includes eight profiles of successful farmland lease arrangements in Virginia. The profiles focus on the different business arrangements underlying these successful leases, to demonstrate the various options that landowners and beginning farmers have to establish partnerships and prudently share risks, responsibilities and rewards. We hope you find the stories helpful and inspiring!

Leasing from Likeminded Landowners

Working vegetable farm finds new hands In his search for the right piece of farmland, Ben Stowe spent a considerable amount of time “walking the grid.” He’d look up the soil maps for a prospective plot, taking into consideration that some of them hadn’t been updated in a half-century, and ...
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Housing Development Sets Aside Land, Funding for Farmers

Mike Snow’s future boss wasn’t quite sure what to ask when he first interviewed him for the position of “farmer” at a new housing development in Loudoun County.It was the middle of winter and, while Snow came with references from previous farming positions, “it’s not like they come in with ...
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The Model for So Many Others

A long-term lease that creates ownership Eric Plaksin and Rachel Bynum are standing near a row of peak summer tomatoes in a field that, after 15 years of farming, feels very much like their own, when the landowner pulls up in his golf cart with his dog Hannah perched in ...
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Making the Most of His Family’s Land

With additional acreage, added opportunity For Brian Walden, his path to farming started with 250 acres of land. He grew up on the property his family bought in Albemarle County in the 1980s, but his parents never farmed its rolling acreage themselves. His dad worked in the city and leased ...
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Organic Farming at a Public Nature Preserve

An opportunity to grow food and invest in the environment Attila Agoston and Shawna DeWitt met while working seasonal jobs at a research center in the South Pole. They started farming because, after running fuel stations in the frigid cold for several months, the summer work on an island off ...
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A Communal Approach

Local farm becomes a launch pad for entrepreneurs In the five years since Jason "JP" Pall and Sally Walker began growing produce on a hilly, windswept plot not far from Virginia Tech, they’ve watched several of the parcels surrounding them change hands. A few have been transformed from pastures — ...
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Earning a Herd, Opening a Store

Working as a chef, Mike Peterson used to drive by the green, cattle-flecked acres of Mount Vernon Farm near Sperryville on his way to the Inn at Little Washington. And when he signed up for a six-month internship at the farm — to learn more about the sustainable farming methods ...
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James and Holly Hammond

Lessons learned at Whisper Hill Farm

What happens next door matters Holly Hammond grew up on a you-pick vegetable farm in Arizona that her parents ran. She had no intention of following in their footsteps as farmers, hobby or otherwise, and neither did her husband, James Hammond, when they married in 2002. At least, not in ...
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