Farms Forever: A partnership approach to increasing farm transfer and succession in southeastern Massachusetts

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2007: $122,212.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Bridget Alexander
Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership, Inc.
Sarah Kelley
SE Mass. Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP)
Jay Coburn
Southeastern Massachusett

Annual Reports

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: decision support system, farmer to farmer, focus group, mentoring, networking, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, analysis of personal/family life, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    The agricultural community in Southeastern Massachusetts faces a loss of critical mass. Under SARE CNE06-010, SEMAP has conducted planning for a local program to enable new and second-generation producers begin farming in our region through increased farmland transfer and tenure arrangements. We identified two beneficiary groups with clear needs: exiting producers, who say they don’t know how to take the first step in farm transfer planning, and entering producers, who want to connect with exiting farmers and non-farming landowners and explore farm structures that don’t involve land ownership. A third group, non-farm landowners who want their land farmed, say they don’t know how to find farmers or understand their tenure needs. We identified many organizations and publications that could help producers in our region, notably Land For Good (LFG) and Farm Transfer Network of New England (FTNNE). But despite these resources, producers feel stuck and unconnected. What is missing? We believe it is a local, on-the-ground catalyst for producer action, referrals, networking, and follow-up. To fill this gap, SEMAP will implement a regional program, “Farms Forever,” (FF) that will: catalyze producer action on farm transfer planning by leveraging existing funds to offer LFG “packages” in our region, create local peer examples and outreach, implement a referral network to service providers (linked to FTNNE and including land trusts), provide a local communication hub and ongoing follow-up, conduct outreach to non-farming landowners, and help connect land trusts and the ag community. FF will be a central local catalyst and resource to give a clear answer to the question, “Where Do I Start?” SEMAP will work closely with LFG, The Trustees of Reservations, and First Pioneer to implement Farms Forever. Our performance target is that at least 8 exiting and/or entering producers will complete one of several farm transfer/tenure scenarios, resulting in a viable new farm entity in Southeastern Massachusetts.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Milestone 1: UNDER SEPARATE FUNDING: 600 producers receive applications for reduced-cost “Transfer the Farm!” package from Land For Good. 20 farms apply; 10 are selected. These 10 farms begin LFG packages in Jan. 2007 or later, continuing for 6 months (7 farms) or 12 months (3 farms). Each recipient conducts at least 1 outreach activity to other growers (serving as case study, writing op-ed, presentation, or other). (Nov.-Dec. 06).

    Milestone 2: 200 exiting producers and 100 entering producers hear about the project from the point of view of other producers through outreach activities by farms receiving LFG packages (articles, presentations, case studies etc). (By Dec. 07).

    Milestone 3: 30 exiting producers and 30 entering producers contact SEMAP to request further information, next steps, and/or a referral to a service provider. (By Dec. 07).

    Milestone 4: 20 exiting and 20 entering producers follow up with a service provider in our referral network to prepare for farm transfer activities. (By Feb. 08).

    Milestone 5: 10 exiting and 10 entering producers meet individually with potential farm transfer partner(s): entering/exiting grower, family member(s), non-farm landowner, land trust. (Apr. 08).

    Milestone 6: 8 exiting and 8 entering producers engage in an intensive one-on-one farm transfer planning process with service providers and a farm transfer partner. (By Jan. 09).

    Performance target: Of these 16 producers, AND 10 farms receiving LFG packages, at least 8 producers complete a farm transfer/tenure arrangement resulting in creation of a viable new farm entity in Southeastern Massachusetts. Scenarios may include: a) partial or complete transfer or sale of exiting grower’s farm to 2nd-generation or unrelated entering producer, b) Long-term lease of a farm property by an entering producer (property may be owned by a non-farming landowner, retiring grower, or land trust), or c) sale of a farm property to a land trust, which hires an entering producer to establish a farm enterprise on the land. (By February 2010).

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.