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September 2023—Farmland Access Hub Newsletter


Twin Cities Berry Company—A Farmland Access Success Story By Bonnie Warndahl Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andy Petran over a phone call in which I heard a not-very-unusual story—at least not in my line of farmland access work.

Andy farms in Minnesota. He is 36 years old and a first-generation farmer. He has a PhD from the University of Minnesota, where in his post-doctoral work he took a deep dive into researching strawberry season extension. He wanted to be a college professor—until he didn’t. Andy realized that somewhere along the way he had started designing a farm in his head, right down to the nitty-gritty details of devising a business plan—and a profession in higher education just wasn’t sitting right with him anymore. “When I thought about it I got a sense of dread in my stomach,” he admitted. “I really love research and education but I also love my autonomy.” In 2018, Andy pivoted, starting his strawberry farm Twin Cities Berry Company on rented land with the intent to emphasize both research and production. He has worked on two different rental properties in the last five years, including the one he farms now. He has only been offered annual rental agreements, which do not provide much stability or long-term planning capabilities for farmers, and has experienced price hikes on his rent year after year, now paying what he says is four times the average rental rate in his county. “One of the biggest issues with renting is that you can’t do any permanent planting or major infrastructure changes on the land. You can’t add electricity. You can’t dig a well. You’re subject to the current availability and condition of the utilities available to you. And, as a small-scale grower, you have to grow really high-value crops to make a profit—and most high-value crops are perennial.” Because of these inhibitors to success, Andy has been intent on buying a farm for years but like many emerging farmers, his biggest barrier to achieving permanent land tenure has been the high price farmland in tandem with the slow pace of the federal programs intended to increase access to financing. “I’ve noticed a lot of interest from people farming for the first time. I see a lot of young people interested in farming but most young people don’t have access to capital or inherited wealth. Thankfully I have a supportive wife.” Andy has been aware of the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Farm Ownership Loan—a no-downpayment, low-interest loan available to beginning farmers—but he found the 3-6+ month loan processing time to be a major inhibitor. “The issue is that securing it can take several months to over a year and when farms are selling just days after they’re listed it doesn’t work. You need a farmer [landholder] who is willing to wait and find someone who wants to be a steward of the land rather than turning it into a parking lot. You have to be very slow and then also be very fast. You have to be patient and then be ready to pounce. But you can’t be patient sometimes—you might go out of business.” Recently, because he was connected to a farm owner who was willing and able to be patient, he did finally close on a 15-acre farm in Isanti, Minnesota (with the help of FSA) and will be moving his operation over the winter. “The farmer I bought the land from didn’t even list it on the market,” he said. Andy got connected with the landholder with the help of his Farmland Access Navigator, Katie Kubovcik, who was able to suggest the match thanks to the Farmland Access Hub’s Available Land Database. As soon as he learned about the opportunity—he pounced. “We had just had a baby but I took my 10-day-old baby girl and gave my elevator pitch about why I was the right person for the land—and they bought it.” Well... actually Andy and his wife did.

Andy still intends to grow mostly strawberries and some raspberries but is excited to plant blueberries at his new farm now that he is finally able to invest in perennials. He pointed out that Isanti has sandy soils which is great for blueberries.

“It took a lot of work but I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work on permanent land and I’m relieved for permanent infrastructure. I’m definitely going to expand more now but will still be using higher-density farming on less land. We have a pretty impressive business on 1.5 acres. We’ll probably put in a solar farm and pollinator habitat,” he said, among other plans.


Congratulations to Andy and his family! One more farmer with secure tenure is another step for everyone toward a resilient local food system.


Farmland Summit Registration Now Open!




Planning is underway and registration is officially open for the 2023 Upper Midwest Farmland Summit on November 14 & 15 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, Minnesota—and we would LOVE to see you there!


The 2023 Farmland Summit will bring together farm leaders, change agents, policymakers, and practitioners from around the upper Midwest to dig into critical challenges and opportunities related to farmland access and transfer. Participants will learn, share, and connect around an array of issues such as farmland financing, tenure, conservation, and transfer.


Register here to get early bird prices now through October 15th.


More info and registration can be found here! Subsidized registration and travel are available for those seeking support to attend (based on our availability of funds).


We are currently seeking sponsors to support our presenters and provide equitable access to those interested in participating. Would your organization like to sponsor the Summit? Learn about sponsor benefits and make a payment.


The Summit will be held at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, MN and hosted by the Farmland Access Hub, a consortium of entities working together to improve farmland access for emerging farmers. Email Catie at catie@rtcinfo.org with any questions.


Announcement From American Farmland Trust (AFT)—Farm Bill Action Center


We are at a critical crossroads. Right now, Congress is working to develop the Farm Bill, which will direct nearly all farm and food policy and funding until 2028. AFT has spent years preparing for this moment to make sure that Congress passes legislation that will protect farmland, support farm viability, bolster farmland access, and help farmers build resilience to climate change.


But we need YOUR HELP. As AFT works to enact our full Farm Bill platform, we have identified that the priorities below require action RIGHT NOW. Your signature could make the difference between our priorities becoming law… and needing to wait another five years. Please take a moment to

click this link and learn about action alerts to ask your elected representatives to include these priorities in the Farm Bill. THANK YOU!


Hub Creates Opportunities for Land Access Networking and Learning


On September 10 and 12, the Farmland Access Hub organized four farmland transition meet & greet events in an effort to bring together landowners, farm-seekers, and service providers. The second offering of its kind in 2023, this effort has been a collaboration between organizations and individuals committed to raising awareness about farmer resources (the pilot event was held in April in Spring Valley, Wisconsin). The goal is to bring land-seeking farmers and landholders interested in providing tenure options into the same space to learn and network with the support and guidance of knowledgeable service providers.


In Minnesota the September events were held in Montgomery, Elk River, and Wadena. In Wisconsin an event was held in Ripon.


The events received press including this article in Agweek.


The Hub is working to refine the structure of these events in the hopes that a reliable template can be created and shared as a resource for other organizations to utilize—essentially an event planning guide, right down to the agenda and print materials.

Farming Opportunity—Deep River, Iowa

Pat and Laurie Cashman are looking for a couple to partner on a 10-acre breed-to-wean purebred Berkshire hog operation located in Deep River, Iowa. Expenses and profits will be split 50/50, with the Cashmans providing and maintaining the facilities and the beginning farmer providing labor. They currently have 150 sows and plan on growing their operation to 300. Here’s what they have to say:

Are you looking for the career opportunity of a lifetime? We, Pat and Laurie Cashman, are looking for a couple to partner with us on our 10-acre breed to wean Pure Bred Berkshire hog operation located in Poweshiek County in Deep River, Iowa.

We breed 80 to 85 sows to fill the 70 farrowing crates on a 35-day turn. The pigs are sold at weaning except for gilts that are kept back in order to build up our herd. The couple will be tied down 4 out of 5 weeks every turn.

We’re looking for a 50/50 partnership with 150 sows and intend to build up to full production at 300. The couple will purchase half of the sow herd from us. You’ll receive training from our former partner to bring you up to speed on how our system works.

How the partnership will work: All profits will be split 50/50. We are also part of a producer-owned pork group called Berkwood Farms that pays out producer savings/dividends. All expenses will be split 50/50. These expenses will include feed, water, electricity, veterinary, trucking, L.P. gas, heat lamp bulbs and parts, etc. Feed can be made on our farm or at the coop and trucked in. Building repairs will be paid by us, with your help to fix. We will provide facilities and you will do most of the labor.

This farm also has other options for livestock (goats, sheep, bees, etc.), about two acres that is now alfalfa, could be sweet corn, etc. We are willing to help find housing for potential partner.

Feel free to contact Pat or Laurie Cashman. Laurie's email is lcashman@ffia.com and Pat's phone number is 319-480-3022.


Farm for Sale—Amherst, Massachusetts


Turn-key community/market farm operation in a great retail location ready for the right farmer to hit the ground running. Well-established PYO strawberry operation, year-round farm store and CSA, and local wholesale accounts. Long-term lease on 33 acres includes ownership of all buildings on property.


Seven-bedroom 1830s farmhouse comprehensively updated in 2019. 4 barns, including one with town water, electricity, and insulated year-round wash/pack facility. Multiple greenhouses for year-round production. Woven-wire/high-tensile fencing can power electric fence on the entire farm. Irrigation well and buried waterline brings reliable 75 GPM water to entire farm. Two Solar arrays; multiple walk-in coolers allow extensive storage of root crops. Extensive equipment for organic vegetable, pasture-raised laying hen, and grassfed beef production systems.


Asking price $1,338,280 includes all buildings and improvements, machinery and equipment, and supplies and farm store inventory


Email simplegiftsfarm@gmail.com for more information; farm website is simplegiftsfarmcsa.com


Interested in transitioning your farm?


Are you a landowner interested in transitioning your farm to the next generation? You may want to consider featuring your farm’s profile on the new “Farms Transitioning Ownership” page on the Farmland Access Hub website. It is our hope that this page will become a central resource in the Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa tristate area for farmland owners hoping to connect with interested farmers regarding the transfer of land and farm businesses. If you would like to have your farm’s profile added to the transitions page please contact Bonnie Warndahl at bonnie@rtcinfo.org or 612-462-9311.


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The Farmland Access Hub now has Facebook and Instagram profiles. Follow us for real-time updates on news and happenings! Facebook.com/farmlandaccesshub @farmlandaccesshub


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