Kind of Like ‘eFarmony’: Matching Farmers with Urban Landowners for Fun and Profit
Landowners and aspiring farmers can meet each other – kind of like speed dating, but for agriculture.
By Emma Jacobs
November 12, 2012
Many farmers want their farms to be located close to a city – especially organic farmers who’d like to sell their produce at big urban farmers markets. But the price of land within range of a big city is sky high and only getting higher.
Most small farmers buy their land, but some are now looking to lease in suburban or exurban areas. And to do that, they’re using something straight out of Fiddler On The Roof: A matchmaker.
Marilyn Anthony is one such matchmaker. “When we started this program,” she says, “we did sort of jokingly refer to it as ‘eFarmony.'”
Anthony is with the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. She’s trying to match owners of underutilized land outside Philadelphia and people who want to farm. In this case, the match would take the form of a lease.
While leasing is common among big factory farms of corn or soybeans, Anthony says many small farmers are cool to the idea. And she says the landowners aren’t too crazy about it either.
“No matter who we spoke with, whether it was aspiring farmers or landowners, the notion of leasing land … seemed uncomfortable,” she says.