Renting land can be an effective strategy for both entry and long term growth of a farm business.
a new entrant with limited capital or a personal desire to remain
connected to the city, it can provide an option to get started.
Following the “function over form” advice, if the goal is
land/beginning commercial scale production, renting can be a more cost
effective option. For existing farms, it can provide a way to
expand while investing capital in other areas (such as a specialized
Specific challenges for renting land for
certified organic production include maintaining certification, the
audit trail and making long term investments in soil fertility and
health. Organic production is not generally viewed as a 1 year
project. Those challenges can be managed through
- Only renting land with a known field history
- Discussing long term soil building as part of the rental agreement
- Renting land as an interim step as your own land is in transition
related to the audit trail and certification may not be an issue for
many new entrants as they would not be pursuing certification right
away due to costs. The benefits of ‘getting started’ and ‘getting
experience’ may take priority.
Land banks, trusts, incubators and large urban yards are other potential options to help new entrants access land.
blocks of land could also be an income stream for existing certified
organic growers. For example, a certified organic dairy producer
in Ontario is renting part of the farm to a new vegetable grower to
operate a CSA.