Native garden exhibits - need help learning about easements....

njbiologyNovember 21, 2009

Forming a conservation easement and any ideas?

I will purchase a rural property in New Jersey of approximately 15 acres less than 2 hours from New York City, whether natural or farm land; the property would have to feature a natural pond and be partially wooded. Aside for a home, greenhouse, and barn for which one acre in total will be dedicated for, I will use the land to host a: (1) native garden, wildlife garden, woodland garden, other specialized gardens, a pond/wetland, and open meadow open to the public; and, possibly, (2) a you-pick/pick-your-own orchard (for profit).

The project, my life-long dream, will be a public resource for family agro-tourism, environmental education, as well as a practical model of native gardening, edible permaculture, and wildlife gardening which will contribute to the like-purposed inspiration and motivation those who visit.

Aside for the location of the home requiring the clearing of trees, trees and natural vegetation will be cleared specifically for establishment of the garden exhibits, orchard, and for the reconstruction of a native meadow. The land will never be developed upon, be for sale, or future subdivision.

At this point, I believe that this best approach would be for me to purchase the property and then directly donate the property (all acres except for the one upon which the home would be built) or sell the property at a reduced price to an established land trust as a conservation easement. In fact, a relation with a land trust is ideal as they have access to funding and may be a good partner resource.

Some questions:

Is it likely to have a conservation land trust in NJ that would purchase the land from me, rather than donating it for the limited benefit of the tax advantages?

Do you think that it would be a good idea to find like-minded individuals to collectively purchase the property and share the project together? Perhaps a larger property would be afforded in that case, with a home for each of the parties?

Do you think that is would be likely to find a ecology/preservation/permaculture philanthropist interested in allowing me to execute my plans on a portion of their own land or to sell me land at a reduced price? Maybe if I had a detailed website describing what I intend to develop and the great conservation and intrinsic value of such?

Any ideas on this?

A farmer who is on a farm land trust in New Jersey said that IÂd be much better off trying to obtain farm land which has, itself, an easement stipulation upon it then raw land. I recently had a meeting with a local land trust in New York which was very interested having me host and execute my project on a very generous amount of land under their care. It turns out I would not be able to securely know that my work would remain intact as this would involve a limited lease (in some cases 20 years), the upside being that I would not have to purchase my own land to do this; as for the you-pick, there would be a sharing of profit, which sounds good. I would prefer to have my own permanent property to do this rather then to go this route.

Thanks,

Steve

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