Unique land access options will be focus of field day July 7 in Iowa City

When beginning farmer Kate Edwards, of Wild Woods Farm, had to relocate her farm to new ground in 2015, she and the landowner worked out a unique long-term lease that also lets Kate build equity.

“I own the infrastructure, but not the land,” says Kate, who raises vegetables on 8 acres for a 200-family CSA near Iowa City. “I also have a five-year lease on the land, which is uncommon in Iowa.”

This lease arrangement—where the farmer owns the infrastructure but not the land—is called a ground lease. For farmers like Kate, who are still working to establish themselves and can’t yet afford to buy land, this type of lease lets her build equity while renting and decreasing her monthly rent.

Kate will share her experience setting up this kind of lease, and discuss other land access options for farmers at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day she is hosting on July 7, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., in Iowa City at 3167 Rapid Creek Trail NE.

The event—“Landing a Farm: Long-Term Leases and Other Options”—is free to attend and will include a potluck dinner following the program. Kate will provide a main dish. Guests are asked to bring a side dish or dessert to share. Please RSVP for the meal to Debra Boekholder at 515-232-5661 or [email protected], by July 3. The field day is sponsored by Iowa Farmers Union and Niman Ranch.

Kate will share the details of how her unique lease works, and the benefits for both the farmer and the landowner. In her case, the lease gives Kate more security while ensuring she meets the landowner’s conservation practice requirements. She will also lead a tour of her farm and discuss other land access options—as well as key issues beginning farmers grapple with, such as financial planning, financing and profitability.

Kate began Wild Woods Farm in 2010, and is entering her eighth season this year. Her CSA serves families in Iowa City, Coralville and Solon. In December 2015, she moved her farm to its second site, where she built a packing and equipment shed on leased ground.

“This field day will be applicable to all types of farmers, because a lot of what we’re going to talk about will be the lease arrangement,” Kate says. “To get started farming, you often have to have infrastructure. The main focus of the day will be looking at unique ways to get farmers on the land in the age of high land prices and hard-to-access capital. You have to think creatively.”

Directions: From I-80, take the IA Hwy 1 exit and go north. Turn right on Rapid Creek Road, just past the BP gas station, and go 1 mile to Rapid Creek Trail; turn left. At the top of the hill, you will see two red barns and a greenhouse. Kate’s barn is the one closest to the greenhouse; the other is her landlord’s home.

Practical Farmers’ 2018 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Applegate Natural & Organic Meats; Blue River Organic Seed; Cascadian Farms; Center for Rural Affairs; Farm Credit Services of America; Gandy Cover Crop Seeders; Grain Millers, Inc.; Green Cover Seed; Green Thumb Commodities; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); ISU Extension and Outreach; La Crosse Forage and Turf Seed; MOSA Organic Certification; Natural Resources Defense Council; Organic Valley/Organic Prairie; PepsiCo; Pipeline Foods; Premier 1 Supplies; Sunrise Foods International; The DeLong Company; The Fertrell Company; The Scoular Company; Unilever; University of Iowa College of Public Health (I-CASH); USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed & Honey Co.