Tools for A Successful Match- Farmer

Thanks so much for your interest in Land Link. We are here to help you find land to grow the next generation of farmers in Montgomery County and beyond.

There are a few things to consider before you start your land search. So please read through this before you click over to the application at the bottom of this page.  None of this is meant to dampen your enthusiasm for farming, but going into a land search with realistic expectations will ensure a more successful search.

  1. Farming is really, really hard.

While farming is an opportunity to work outside and be close to the land while feeding your community, it is also a really difficult profession both physically and mentally. When factors beyond your control (pests, weather, injury, etc) can undo months of hard work in one day, farming is more stressful than most other jobs. Drought, flooding rains, wind events or late freeze are not uncommon, and with climate change, more and more common all the time.
Farmers that have either formal training or on-farm experience are suited to a Land Link search. Though we would like to offer it in the future, Land Link does not have a mentoring component for new farmers.
If you are considering searching for land through Land Link and have less than 2 years working on farms/gardens, please consider getting that experience before applying. This is not meant to dissuade hopeful farmers – but make better matches.

Some great opportunities to get this experience (note that these are mostly free):
Farmer Training through Future Harvest 
The Beginner Farming Program through UMD Extension
Community Garden Opportunities in MoCo
-Volunteer and Paid Opportunities through our Labor Link listings
-Read over the guides at Land for Good about how to conduct a land search. They also have a video (mostly about New England but lots of good info)
2. Farming is a Business. A Plan is Key.

Not only is farming hard, but the inputs are often expensive and the profits are small. Small scale farmers in our expensive region often farm as a second or third job, meaning finding the time to devote to it is hard. While farming is hard, farming profitably is harder.
You may also want to delay a Land Link search if you have not created a business plan and a marketing plan for your new operation.

A question on the application that will be shared with potential land matches asks if you have written these documents. A written business plan (of course with flexibility for the specifics of the land you are able to secure) will show that you are taking a land search seriously.
Many matches are seeking to grow for community food banks, it is still a good idea to have a written plan for how inputs (soil amendments, water, seeds) will be secured and outputs (food) will be distributed.
There are excellent (mostly free) resources to help you craft these plans:
UMD Roadmap for Beginning Farmers Resources (includes business counselors)
 -Cornell Small Farm Planning Hub (free online course of study)
-A wealth of resources on the PA Land Link site on budgeting, planning and securing land 

      3. A Land Link search is not a guarantee of finding land. 

While we will connect you with landowners offering their land for long term lease/sale/etc. There is no guarantee that you will find a land match through Land Link. Much like a dating site, we are a portal to make connections but a fulfilling relationship is not a promise we can make. We will do our very best to help you craft a compelling listing, send your information to possible land matches and promote your listing through social media.
Some ways you can make a match more likely:

– Take advantage of the training and planning resources listed above to have real clarity on how you will create a successful farm venture. Landowners are looking for serious land partners, getting training and crafting plans shows you are serious.

-Reach out to lots of different landowners to broaden your search.

-Most important – Communication.

Communication with Land Link: Land Link is an email based program, please return emails to the Land Link coordinator in a timely fashion, even if you are not interested in the listing being offered. While the one-time membership fee is forever, farmers and landowners will have to respond to an email check-in every 6 months to keep their listing active on the site. We do this to ensure viable and current listings.

Communication with Landowners: Once you are meeting with a potential land match, it is important to be open and honest about your vision and plans. This also means crafting a lease that outlines all the particulars of the agreement. (Lease Building tools here and Drafting Lease Question Sheet) Like any solid relationship, open communication can stop disagreements before they start. It is reasonable for a landowner to seek references from other farms or jobs you have worked.

With all that out of the way – if you are ready to apply to seek land through Land Link, you can start the application online here. Or the printable version here  to send in (pdf).

Once you have completed the online application, we will be in touch to discuss your application and at that time you can pay the one-time $30 fee either securely online or by check.

Thanks for your interest in Land Link!