How would you approach a landowner?

ecaesia(Z10 AU)May 30, 2005

Hi - first post for a long time - I have been growing mainly on my own clear 1/3 acre...but there is an empty (for years)1/4 acre block that is flat and covered in weeds not a few minutes drive from here... I eye it off everytime I drive on by - now if I could find out who owns the land, I could approach them and offer 'X' to grow on their block -- what would be a good deal??? % of sales?, payment of water bills, seasonal supply of crops grown??? Please offer your thoughts! :)

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GrassIsEvil(z6 TN)

To find out who owns it, go to the local registry of deeds, landoffice, whatever. There will be a record of the owner of record because someone is paying taxes on the place, and you can get the address.

My thoughts--don't offer them a percentage of cash sales--that leads to bookkeeping and oversight and doesn't allow for expenses that, especially in the first season, will do bad things to profit. A portion of the crop can also get complicated, since it might involve transportation, or if it's a lot, the person may not want to get involved in selling his portion.

Find out from your local agricultural agent, whatever that agency may be called, what the going rates are for agricultural land or for undeveloped lots within the municipal limits. Offer the clean-up as partial payment for the first year's rent. Sometimes landowners will settle for payment of taxes.

The water will be different--I don't know how deposits and access are set up in your area, but I would keep it separate from the rent. Utilities included when it comes to farming can get really complicated. Water use may get curtailed, or the landlord may set the rent much higher just be sure he covers the cost of water. If you can, make it so you only pay for the water you use, not an estimated figure.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 5:48PM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

I did this 15 years ago on the lot next door when I was still a renter. (I now own 5 acres).
Ask if the owner will let you garden on it in exchange you will keep it neat and free from garbage. Two concerns to anticipate. 1) Willing to vacate - that if they need to build/sell, that you understand you will be out with 3 day notice, leaving the place clean and nothing left behind. 2) No Complaints - that you will not cause complaints from neighbors for smells, bees, or what ever, nor from the city or anyone else. May land owners will be willing to let you use land if you follow common sence and are a "good neighbor". RE: pay... I wouldn't. Just toss them a (really great organicly grown) turnip (or tomatoe or what ever they like) once in a while and see them smile.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 7:12PM
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roberthildre(z7 nc)

I approached a family with a vacant acre lot in a fairly large city in NC about a year ago and am now growing on a little over half of it. I have two other partners and we serve a 15 member CSA. We have a loose agreement with the owners and pay $50.00 per month, keep the space neat and mowed, and give them a share which is worth about $20.00 per week. If all goes well, I would like to pay the taxes on the land which are about $1,200.00 per year. Land is becomeing very valuble here and developers contact them often about selling. Fortunatly, they do not need the money and like not having to mow an acre every week or two! We were lucky and I hope you will be too. People seem to like seeing things grow and I think more people than not would be intrested in their land being put to use while not having the threat of giving up ownership. Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 10:21PM
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ecaesia(Z10 AU)

Hi there all!
Thanks for your replies. They have got me thinking and i have decided that i will find out who owns the land and approach them. Would writing to them or directly approaching them be a better way? I hope not the latter as I'm not the most brazen;)!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 5:13AM
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jimbad05(z5 OH)

I have just finished reading Joel Salatin's book "You Can Farm." In it, he talks about the many absentee owned and poorly kept properties by older people. He recounts a tale of some kind of student (in GA i think?) that did a survey/experiment simply asking 100 owners of large, unused acreage is he might be able to rent the land. He was not turned down once!

In fact, it's sometimes easier to rent land as you start up and figure out exactly where you want to go with the farming business before you buy your own land.

Anyway, "You Can Farm" cavers a wide variety of topics and I would definitely recommend it to you. He speaks at length about securing land and owning vs renting.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2005 at 12:05AM
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