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2019 Farmland Access & Transfer Conference

November 18, 2019 @ 8:00 am - 3:30 pm


MFT & Land For Good are pleased to present the 5th Annual Farmland Access and Transfer Conference! Last year’s conference drew over 130 farmers, policymakers, service providers and advocates and featured storytelling, skill-building workshops, and thoughtful discussion around farmland access and transfer challenges and successes.

Join us for a day of practical workshops to better understand the options, resources, and steps to accessing or transferring your farm or farmland.


  • Are you a farmer wondering what will happen when you’re ready to stop farming?
  • Are you a farmer looking for land?
  • Are you a landowner thinking about making your property available for farming?
  • Are you a service provider who helps with issues related to farmland access?


Learn strategies for keeping your farmland in production including how to tackle succession planning, plus how to to find and secure farmland of your own, negotiate a good lease agreement, and more. Session descriptions below!


*Online registration is now closed. Walk-ins are welcome the day of the conference! Questions? Call the MFT office and ask for Rachel Keidan, 207.338.6575*


8-8:30 AM    Registration

8:30 – 8:40   Welcome

8:45-10:15    Breakout Session 1

10:15-10:30   Break

10:30-12 pm   Plenary


Land Justice: Acknowledging Our Past, Changing Our Future: organized by Land in Common

Land is the source of life, but it has also been a site of great harm. Much of the land that is now called “Maine” was forcibly taken from Wabanaki people by European settlers, and challenges to Native sovereignty and sustenance continueto this day. African Americans have long experienced racism and land dispossession in Maine, with the eviction of Malaga Island’s black farming community in 1912 as one prominent example. Meanwhile, more than 2,700 Latinx farmworkers help to produce Maine’s agricultural products each year, yet remain at the margins of conversations about land access and farm viability. And how many white families with low incomes are able to imagine themselves having secure land tenure and joining the movement for local, sustainable food? This panel brings together leaders from communities in Maine that have been historically disenfranchised from secure land access and from conversations about the future of farming and farmland protection in the state. Drawing on stories of the past while looking pro-actively toward the future, they will answer two key questions: What has land injustice looked like in Maine? And what does it look like for those working toward equitable farmland access to enact justice moving forward? Speaking from personal and historical experiences, the panelists will offer us all an opportunity to acknowledge and take responsibility for the harms of the past while also equipping ourselves with new tools, and renewed commitments, for building a more equitable future.

SPEAKERS: Maria Girouard, Maine-Wabanaki REACH & Penobscot Nation; Crystal Cron, a Latinx Organizer and Community Educator; Sass Linneken, Resources for Organizing and Social Change (ROSC); David Patrick, Organizer, Racial Equity and Justice

FACILITATOR: Nicola Chin, Up with Community


12-12:45   Lunch

12:45-2   Breakout Session 2

2-2:25   Break

2:30-3:30   Breakout Session 3



BREAKOUT 1 – 8:45-10:15


MULTI-STAKEHOLDER TRACK 1: Building Community Between Farm Owners and Seekers Through Storytelling and Community Writing

DESCRIPTION: Rooted in the premise that writing helps us learn about ourselves and understand the lives of others, this workshop will use writing to build connections between current and future farmers to facilitate land transfer and access. The workshop facilitators, who teach garden-based writing in Maine schools, will help participants access their memories by sketching timelines and maps and will help participants develop their material into short stories or poems. They will also guide participants through a conversation of their work that will help them build connections that honor the past and ease the process of change.After the writing workshop, we will discuss future projects.                                                                         

One such project is the Almanac of Garden Writing. Harkening back to the tradition of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Almanac of Garden Writing is currently a growing collection of writing prompts for farmers, gardeners, writers, teachers, and students. Following the calendar, it offers writing activities in connection to seasonal farming activities. Facilitators will illustrate how community writing projects such as the Almanac of Garden Writing can facilitate land access and transfer by helping farmers and gardeners build community, maintain records, share resources, and make visible the cultural work of agriculture. We will conclude with a discussion of next steps such as future writing workshops, publication opportunities, and opportunities for farmers to share their work in schools.

PRESENTERS: Stephanie Wade, PhD, Bates College; Mark Melnicove, Falmouth High School


MULTI-STAKEHOLDER TRACK 2: Creating the local Agrarian Common

DETAILS: Creating the Local Agrarian Commons: Agrarian Trust is creating a local Agrarian Commons through establishing 501(c)(2) land-holding entities to support land access and tenure for the next generation of farmers. We see this model as a necessary and innovative approach to address the realities of farmland owner demographics, wealth disparity, farm viability, and all who are excluded and marginalized from equity in land, food, and community. The local Agrarian Commons will hold farmland to: (1) support ecological restorative agriculture and community, (2) convey 99-year lease tenure and equity interest to farmers, (3) share in ecological stewardship investment, and (4) support farm viability and local agrarian economies. Come learn about Agrarian Trust and the creation of local Agrarian Commons with AT’s Director, AT local AC’s legal counsel, and a local AC founding farmer.

PRESENTERS: Ian McSweeney, Organizational Director, Agrarian Trust; Amy Manzelli, BCM Environmental and Land Law and Agrarian Trust’s NH Agrarian Commons attorney; Jeremiah Vernon, Vernon Family Farm and NH Agrarian Commons Board Member


OWNER TRACK: Farm Succession & Transfer Planning: Focus on Values

DETAILS: Transitioning farms to a successor is a major challenge for most farms. Senior farmers need information, support, and advice to plan for a successful transfer. They may need to identify and recruit a successor, and may not know where to find one or how to share their wishes for the farm. Junior farmers may not know what to ask or may feel uncomfortable or “pushy”” in moving forward with a succession plan.

In either case, having a clear vision for the farm is helpful. It’s a starting place to talk with the potential successor, or the current land owner. In this session we’ll start with exercises to help you identify your core values. We’ll explore how these can help you talk clearly about what you’d like in a farming situation and how to use your vision to guide a farm transfer process.

PRESENTERS: Leslie Forstadt, UMaine Cooperative Extension and Abby Sadauckas, Maine Field Agent, Land For Good


SEEKER TRACK: Affording Farmland

DETAILS: Finding affordable farmland is often cited as one of the biggest barriers to farmland access. Defining affordability and realizing the secure tenure of an “affordable” piece of land can also be a challenge. This session will draw on the experience of Maine farmers to discuss innovative strategies and tools for affording farmland. A panel of farmers will share their personal stories of attaining and affording farmland. In addition, we will discuss how to budget for land while taking into account your farm and off-farm expenses. Different arrangements for farmland tenure (as explained in LFG’s new Farm Access Methods Guide) will be explored, including cooperative ownership, OPAV, lease-to-own, long term leases, agricultural easements, and ground leases. Time will be allotted for questions from the audience.

PRESENTERS:Will O’Meara, CT Field Agent, Land For Good

FARMER PANELISTS: Ben Whalen of Bumbleroot Farm, Noami Brautigam & James Gagne of Dickey Hill Farm, and Brenna Mae Thomas-Googins of Patch Farm



MULTI-STAKEHOLDER TRACK: Land Justice: Discussion Session

DETAILS: This session, led by participants of the morning Land Justice plenary, offers participants an opportunity to ask follow-up questions, learn about Maine land justice issues in more depth and detail, and discuss proactive strategies for moving forward.

PRESENTERS: Facilitated by Nicola Chin


OWNER TRACK: Farm Lending Panel 

DETAILS: Come meet lenders from Farm Service Agency, Farm Credit East, Coastal Enterprises, Inc., and Maine Harvest Federal Credit Union. These lenders will provide an overview of the services they offer, touch on loan qualifications, and help participants understand the differences in their various loan products. Participants will then have an opportunity to engage in a participatory and interactive exercise to get to know each lender and ask deeper questions about their respective programs and services.

PANELISTS: Shannon Webber, Farm Credit East, Lucia Brown, Maine Farm Service Agency, Daniel Wallace, Coastal Enterprises, Inc., Patty Duffy, Maine Harvest Federal Credit Union


SEEKER TRACK: Business Transfer Examples: Executing Transactions and Mitigating Risk

DETAILS: This session will walk through the steps in a farm business transfer and cover how buyers and sellers prepared for a transfer, found each other, determined the viability of the transfer and the farm going forward, transferred management responsibilities within a business, developed, managed and executed their agreements and the important components of those that made the transaction work and mitigated risk for all parties. The session will explore recent (2019) innovative transfers where retiring farmers transferred an active business and land to younger farmers. These cases are from the portfolio of Dirt Capital Partners. The session will practically delve into transfer examples and stories to break down the components of the transactions. The tools and examples presented are applicable to family and non-family transfers. There will be ample time for facilitated Q&A regarding the cases presented and your own farm’s next steps.

PRESENTERS: Benneth Phelps, Director of Farmer Services, Dirt Capital Partners


OWNER & SEEKER TRACK: Crafting Your Own Agricultural Lease

DETAILS: For many farmers having a secure long-term lease is an essential part of running their agricultural operation. And yet, far too many agreements are done on a handshake or the language in the lease leaves vital questions unanswered and open to potential problems. This workshop will discuss the significance of all parties communicating values and goals upfront, the importance of having a good lease, what key components should be included in a lease, and will demonstrate Land For Good’s innovative Build-A-Lease tool designed to educate and guide farmers and landowners through the process of crafting a first draft of a lease on their own. You’re welcome to bring your laptops and questions. Open to both landowners and farmers interested in a lease arrangement. Participants will leave with knowledge of how a lease can work to their benefit and the skills to draft a lease specific to their situation. We will distribute lease examples/templates, along with appropriate LFG worksheets and resources.

PRESENTERS: Cara Cargill, NH Field Agent, LFG

BREAKOUT SESSION 3 – 2:30-3:30


OWNER TRACK: What Could Go Wrong in Farm Transfer/Estate Planning?

DETAILS: Participants in this workshop will use a hypothetical case study provided in advance to illuminate typical issues that come up as part of farm transfer and estate planning. Session presenters will lead audience members in an interactive discussion about suitable business and legal options for dealing with the issues described in the case study.

PRESENTERS: John Lambert, Attorney, Lambert and Coffin



DETAILS: In this session we will discuss some opportunities and challenges related to securing land for agricultural production in urban settings. Presenters will discuss venues for accessing land through examples from Providence, Rhode Island. Practical components of land stewardship in cities— including fertility and soil health, remediation, zoning and regulation, racism, gentrification, and cultural multiplicity in urban neighborhoods—will also be considered.

PRESENTERS:  Tess Brown-Lavoie, Rhode Island Field Agent, Land For Good; Rowen Gorman, Community Agriculture Program Coordinator, Cultivating Community


SEEKER TRACK: Conducting a Land Search

DETAILS: For farm seekers and aspiring farmers, the search for land can often be one of the most daunting tasks. In this workshop we will discuss the process, strategies, and tools for making the most out of your hunt for farmland. This will include web tools such as online linking sites and soil analysis, affordability calculations and strategies, and methods for evaluating land and infrastructure for suitability. Suitable for farmers not currently on land and for those looking to evaluate current or additional pieces of land.

Attendees will leave with a road map for secure land tenure that includes how to conduct a land search, determine the right type of tenure for their situation, and where to find available land.

PRESENTERS: Shemariah Blum-Evitts, Program Director, LFG; Sue Lanpher, Farm Link Coordinator, MFT


OWNER & SEEKER TRACK: Conservation Easements as a Farmland Access Tool

DETAILS: At this workshop, presenters will explain the basics of agricultural conservation easements, and what it looks like to own and farm on an easement encumbered property. Typical easement restrictions will be discussed, and presenters will emphasize the opportunities to develop easement terms that are crafted to take the needs of the landowner into account, and to allow for flexibility that will help ensure the future viability of the farm. Presenters will explain the process of working with a land trust on the sale of a conservation easement using real project examples to illustrate how the sale of a conservation easement can benefit both farmland owners, as well as individuals seeking to acquire farmland at an affordable price. The workshop will also cover how easement purchase prices are determined, general process questions such as timeline, working with banks and/or realtors, and the long term impacts of deciding to proceed with the sale of a conservation easement.

PRESENTERS: Adam Bishop, Farmland Protection Program Director, MFT; MFT Farmer-Partner, TBD

Thank you to our sponsors:

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November 18, 2019
8:00 am - 3:30 pm
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Augusta Civic Center
76 Community Dr
Augusta, ME 04330 United States
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