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Finding Land to Farm
edited October 2013
How can I find farmland to rent, lease or purchase in order to begin a small scale farm operation?
Acquiring farmland is becoming more challenging for farmers, especially beginning farmers. A great way to get your feet wet is to check out Incubator Farm programs in your area. Incubator Farms are a fairly new concept that are designed to help new farmers gain experience by providing land, farm machinery, and mentorship by more experienced farmers, which allows the new farmer to get involved in a farming operation with minimal risk and investment. Some benefits of an Incubator Farm are that beginners can lease a plot of farmland and work it without having to make the commitment to purchase it, they can receive mentorship from experienced farmers, they can often lease, share or use farm machinery which is often very expensive to buy, and gain valuable experience in managing a farming operation.
For more info on incubator farms:
For more info on finding farmland for sale:
If you want to start small scale you don't need much land. We have supported ourselves on about 1/3 acre for the last twenty years. Try biointensive farming. You can get with them at Ecology Action or Grow Biointensive. Great way to grow more and use less resources.
If you're looking for land but can't necessarily afford to buy it right now, there are several linking programs out there that connect farmers who are looking for land to farm with retiring farmers/landowners who are looking for someone to farm their land.
A great list of linking programs is available on the Center for Rural Affairs website, at:
. These are organized by national, state and regional programs. This is definitely the best & broadest list I found. There's also a contact at the bottom if you need more info about these programs.
CFRA also has their own linking program, called Land Link:
One of the programs they list in Iowa is Find-A-Farmer, a program of Practical Farmers of Iowa, available at:
International Farm Transition Network lists a number of (domestic) programs by state:
Includes California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The National Young Farmers Coalition has a number of great regional resources. See
for their page on training opportunities, which also includes many programs connecting farmers to land.
One of these is Iowa State's Ag Link program in their Beginning Farmer Center:
The Greenhorns has a "Find a Job" page on their website:
One helpful link for the Midwest listed on their site is the land link-up from Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). This can be found at
-Zoe Carlberg, ATTRA specialist
These are great resources posted Nov 20, thanks very much.
I have found the land link programs I've looked at not that helpful, because there's so few listings, and/or so few people using them to source for land. The more they are used and promoted, however, these Could become Very Important Resources. My take-away is, get the word out about these programs, and use them!
There are programs started by some sustainable ag organizations in different states, two are below. Other state/regional sustainable ag organizations may likely also be trying to offer services:
Oregon's Friends of Family Farmers
1. iFarm program (
Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture PASA
1. Classifieds - Land (
2. PASA's Farm Lease Connection (
I agree with Gina from PA. These resources are great but more needs to be done with informing and getting older farmers interested in these resources. They need an outreach program. In my area if a farmer does not have family to take over they usually just let it go to auction. Most do not help low income become farmers also.
Totally agree with GinaAnderson and robin21...maybe in coordination with state Extension offices, traditional letters, postings in newspapers (other traditional media) might work to reach older farmers who would prefer the land be put in hands that are going to farm it.