Monday, February 27, 2012

The Fight to Farm

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The mini-farm in Ledyard has been on my mind lately.  Even though the town that the property is in is not where I would like to be, the location is perfect (so close to my family!).  And there is just something so appealing about the raw potential that property has, and knowing I could make it beautiful.

Sunday my real estate agent called - she had spoked with the current owners about my concerns with the agriculture zoning in Ledyard and they called back with a list of neighbors that were able to receive permits to farm.  They also left me the number for the head of the agricultural committee in town, who also runs a very successful farm operation, heads up the farmers' market, and happens to be the neighbor through the woods in the backyard.

I talked with him for about an hour on Sunday and then he called back again this morning to check-in.  Like most farmers out of the organic movement of the 70s, he's full of fire and passion for what he does.  I told him briefly what I was hoping to do (a small, diverse family farm with veggies, small fruits, chickens, and pigs) and he said it wouldn't be a problem.  I told him about my degree in sustainable agriculture and that I grew up in that town and just wanted to contribute to the community.

Long story short, the ag committee in town has agreed to support me 100%.  And they're pissed that the town officials gave any other impression.  They even offered to help plow my field this first spring, and potentially to rent greenhouse space.  It's totally the opposite of what I was worried about: here is a very small community of farmers looking to help in any way that they can to ensure I succeed.  My heart is full.

To get around zoning challenges, they recommend I register the farm business at the state Department of Ag (something I don't anticipate having trouble doing, as I know most of the people there) and then bringing my Tax ID to the town, which will essentially have to register my business after that.  The ag committee offered to join me when the tax assessor comes to tour the property and reassess for agricultural value.  He's a good friend of one of the members and in a small town, networking is number one.  Fighting for what you need is number two.

SO, tomorrow I'm going back to see the property one last time and hopefully put in an offer.  I really hope that I haven't built it up in my head (I sometimes have a tendency to do that), and that the list of repairs isn't much longer than I think it will be (I'm bringing along my dad to help assess).  God willing, I can put in an offer and have a contract by the end of the week, with just enough time to revise my business plan over the weekend and re-present it to the loan agency.  God willing.

Maybe this less-than-perfect plot of land will be just where I was meant to be.

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