Oregon Land Access Technical Assistance Pilot Project – Update

Farm transfers are tough. There’s an emotional connection to the land and to growing food that adds a deep layer of complexity to the challenge of passing on a small business. The average age of farmers in Oregon is 60, yet over 80% of Oregon’s farmers don’t have a succession plan for their farm. At the same time, finding and accessing farmland creates a significant challenge for beginning farmers and ranchers who are not positioned to inherit family land. The future of Oregon’s farms and food system depends on finding successful ways of passing land on to the next generation.

Guided by successful models in other states and the variety of expertise on our collaborative team, Oregon Community Food Systems Network’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Working Group launched a year-long pilot program in the fall of 2019 aimed at addressing the need for more technical assistance for land transition and in accessing land. What better way to explore and understand the type and depth of technical assistance required than working closely with real farmers and landholders? Despite a short application period, we were overwhelmed with a solid response of sixty applicants and after an interview process, the final candidates were chosen. Our goal was to understand the full spectrum of technical assistance needs so we chose both a trio of young farmers looking for farmland as well as a couple looking for a new farmer for their land.

Committee members including Farm Commons, Friends of Family Farmers, Rogue Farm Corps and Headwaters Incubator Program have been busy since last fall providing assistance on all aspects of farmland transition, which includes help searching for the right land and the right new farmer, securing financing, writing leases, and other legal aspects around leasing and purchasing land. The chosen participants have been busy clarifying their vision for their farm, actively engaging in discussions with potential matches and communicating regularly and openly with us about their needs as they go through this arduous process.

Together we are discovering what a comprehensive land linking program in Oregon might look like so that we can ensure a solid future for agriculture in Oregon.

And now….Meet the Landseekers! They are still searching for land so please do share far and wide with your networks.

We are Meara, Travis, and Kylie, three young farmers seeking property in Oregon to start a family farm business. We have a decade of farming experience; Meara and Travis currently run a cut flower operation in Bozeman, MT, and Kylie manages a seed farm in southern Oregon. Our vision is to run a diversified farm including flowers, seed, and raising livestock while stewarding the land through responsible land management. We believe in the important work of growing good food for our communities, and would love to work with a landowner who shares this sentiment and desires to keep their land in agriculture. We ideally are looking for 15+acres, and are open to all parts of Oregon but are most interested in NE, Central, and Southern Oregon as well as the Columbia River Gorge. See Oregon Farm Link Post or email farmlink@friendsoffamilyfarmers.org for more details We would love to connect with you!