Creating a web-based tool to link farmers with institutional land-lease opportunities

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2012: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Lisa Mosca
Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Annual Reports

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: networking, technical assistance
  • Sustainable Communities: community planning, infrastructure analysis, new business opportunities, public participation, urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    New and small scale farmers can benefit from innovative land access strategies, especially in locations where land purchase costs are high. Many institutions have lawn space with high maintenance costs and would be willing to support agricultural projects that would remove those maintenance costs while adding community benefit. The project manager will facilitate meetings between a software engineer, farmers and private institutions with land to create a web-based bulletin board where institutions can post available free and low-cost land access opportunities. Farmers will be able to search the bulletin board using search features valuable to them like location, size, and water access. The website hosting the bulletin board will also host ‘how to’ fact sheets that help farmers navigate zoning, public health other permit regulations once they access land and want to grow and market the resulting produce. The goal is to increase land access for farmers through an easy on-line land posting system and create easy access to local and state compliance regulations once land access has been achieved. Outreach to institutions will be through targeted mailings and listservs, advertisements in local news outlets and on our website, and at our annual Philadelphia Flower Show. Outreach to farmers will be through our City Harvest Growers Alliance Program as well as multiple field days and workshops that introduce the new bulletin board tool and through local farmer listservs.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    We will survey all our City Harvest farmers before starting the grant to measure how they have found land in the past before 2012. For 2012 we will measure the number of City Harvest farmers who find land through the on-line bulletin board match system we create. We will also measure the number of City harvest farmers who find land through other means in 2012. We will compare the number of matches made in 2011 and 2012 using the on-line system. Obviously any new matches made by the on-line system will be a success, because they will increase the number of matches made in 2011 on-line. We will also compare the percentage of matches made on-line with the percentage made in other ways and report that data back to SARE. Our techniques for gathering data will be through surveys of our City Harvest farmers either in person or over e-mail. We will make sure we get responses from at least 10 farmers at the beginning of the year and the end of the year who actually post requests for land access on the bulletin board. In the end of year survey we will ask them if they were successful in accessing land, and if so, what mechanism was used to find the land, the on-line system or some other interaction. If the
    system increases land access for farmers by even 25% we will consider that a success.

    We will share the results of our project with other farmers in the city, state and region using different methods. We will share the results with urban farmers through future workshops with City Harvest growers in Philadelphia, by sharing them with Philadelphia urban farmers through the Philadelphia urban farmers listserv, and by using PHS publications, website and blogs to share the url for the website. We will share the results with the broader state and regional audience of farmers through the PASA and NOFA listservs, and by mailing the results to the agricultural extension agents in the region [PA/NJ] to share with other farmers as a tool. We will also share the results with a broader PHS membership in the city and region of over 5,000 through publications and on-line media. We will be open to meeting with or speaking with other interested regions about the tool itself and the process for creating it. Our main target audience will be farmers and institutions interested in providing land access.

    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.