Farm Access

“EMSWCD is sowing the seeds for my farm to have long-term stability” -Emily Cooper, owner of Full Cellar Farm and participant in EMSWCD’s Farm Access program

Farmer’s access to farmland is a significant and growing challenge. EMSWCD’s working farmland protection efforts incorporate strategies to ensure the easy accessibility of such farmland to current and future generations of farmers.

Our farm access efforts have and will continue to benefit a range of farm types – from small vegetable operations to large nursery operations, and everything in between. EMSWCD recognizes that accessing farmland is particularly challenging to certain groups, such as beginning farmers and members of communities negatively impacted by racial discrimination and dispossession. We’re exploring strategies with a community advisory group to help address these farmland access inequities.

What are we doing?

Working Farmland Easements

On our working farmland easement projects, we’re incorporating terms like the below:

  • Protected farm properties must stay in active farm use, and if that farm use ever ceases, EMSWCD can lease the property to a farmer who will farm it
  • Future resale of the farm limited to bona fide farmers
  • Restrictions on residential development rights, which are a huge component of property value
  • Limiting future resale of the farm to its agricultural value

Learn more about how we are using working farmland easements through this recent project example.

Purchasing Farmland

When an important farm property is threatened with conversion to a non-farm use, we can purchase the farm in order to ensure it remains available for farmers. Some of the strategies we utilize to protect and enhance farmland access on these properties include:

  • Making farm properties available for lease on a year-to-year basis. EMSWCD farm properties have been leased to farmers producing a diversity of products – such as berries, grass seed, ornamental trees and shrubs and vegetables.
  • Making farm properties available for lease on a longer-term basis – between 3 and 20 years.
  • Incorporating cost-sharing / buy-back provisions for farm infrastructure development
  • Reducing rents in recognition of other outcomes the lessee may be achieving
  • Selling farm properties at a discount to farmers
  • Incorporating affordable purchase options into our leases

Learn more about how we are using working farmland easements through this recent project example.

Headwaters Incubator Program

EMSWCD’s farm incubator program at Headwaters Farm provides beginning farmers up to five years of access to farmland, equipment and knowledge-sharing in an effort to support farm establishment and viability.

Want to learn more about how we can partner with you?

Contact Matt Shipkey, our Land Legacy Program Manager, at (503) 935-5374 or

Farm Access Website Resources