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the land search continues..

Posted: February 4 2010

Smithereen Farm is still looking for a new farm location. We have had a lot of conversations, but no match yet. We'd like to stay in the Hudson Valley, preferably near a train station.
a kindly landlord who likes the greenhorns mission, on-board with sustainable agriculture
kitchen, housing + office space for farmers and greenhorns (pref 2+ bedrooms)
ok with carnivory + animal processing
Barns with water access for rabbits, brooding chickens, dairy goats, cow
1+ acre good arable farmland for culinary herbs, veg, flowers
4+ acres fenced pasture for dairy animals
10+ acres unfenced pasture for laying hens+
woodland for 12 pastured pigs
ok with delighted young farmer visitors+guests, able to work in partnership
We are willing to pay reasonable rent/ be official ag exemption/ work alongside another farming operation, willing plant orchard for landowner, willing to care for landowner animals, willing to help with farm stewardship and planning. We are willing, eager workers: but we've got a lot of greenhorns projects on the go and so cannot take a CSA/farm manager position, or oversee fancy horses.
Greenhorns operates with a revolving crew of volunteers, partners and collaborators: we have dinner parties, visitors, press, outdoor meetings+ picnics.  We are a merry coalition of young farmers, organizers, activists, designers, filmmakers etc. The trick is to find a landowner who is delighted by this energy, ok with the press, glad for the visitation and educational outreach,  and very importantly: not afraid of animal manures.
Since our landlord decided to break our lease in December, it is not at all sure that we'll be able to farm this coming season. Tyler Sage, my farm partner, has gone to work at another farm, and friends Sean Stanton, Dina Brewster + Marina Michaelles have kindly adopted our rabbits, chickens + herbs as we navigate our departure from the current (quite contentious) scene.
Our ideal land scenario seems thus far elusive, but we'd rather not concede defeat. Instead we are coming to realize that our story of injustice at the hands of an arbitrary landlord is quite common to the experience of farmers across the country, and particularly in places where land-values are high.  Farmers young and old are telling us similar stories. Having now driven circles around the backroads of the Hudson Valley investigating leads, we are infuriated by the omnipresence of under-utilized farmland, the hundreds of dairy barns teetering on the edge of collapse: this situation needs more attention. There is farmland. We want to farm it.
Current tax structures + settlement prejudices are insufficiently hospitable to new farmers.
What about a tax-break for landowners leasing to beginning farmers?
What about a tax-slap for landowners who break their contractual obligations with farmers!
What about a national conversation about neo-feudalism?
What about a cultural commitment among conservationists to focus attention on supporting new/existing/organic farm businesses!
Young farmers are not just a tax-write off, we are not share croppers, we are community servants who deserve dignified land access, sensibly termed leases, and rights under the law. America is a young nation, we've got to allow our ambitious young people to find opportunities in farming. Otherwise we'll get bitter and grumpy- and probably not be able to keep farming.
Average age of the American farmer is 58.
I am 28, Tyler is 24. Please help us farm.
Any networking you can do on our behalf might bring us closer to a stable headquarters for our work, and a fertile field in which to practice agriculture.
Grateful for your help,
Severine von Tscharner Fleming,
on behalf of smithereen farm + greenhorns crew.