Simple Gifts Farm - Farm Business for sale on 33 acres under long-term lease - Amherst, MA

Posted on December 6, 2022Last updated 1 month ago

The Land

Property Owner:

Land trust or other conservation organization

Property Location:

1089 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA

Total number of acres available with this property:

33.0

Acres of cropland or tillable land:

18.0

Acres of pasture:

5.0

Acres of forested land:

1.0

Other open and/or non-farmable land:

3 acres wetlands 6 acres in roads, buildings, headlands, etc.

Is the property enrolled in a current use or other state program that affects property taxes?:

Yes

Is the property protected with any type of Conservation Easement?:

Yes

Easement details:

All but 2 acres around farmhouse are enrolled in APR program. Entire property is owned by a friendly land trust; farm operation has a long-term ground lease and owns all "improvements:" buildings, well and irrigation lines, greenhouses, fence, etc.

Is there a forest management plan for forestland on the available property?:

No

Is the property certified organic, or does it qualify for organic certification under federal organic regulations?:

Yes
Farm Information

Water sources present

Available

Types of water sources present

Drilled well
Town/municipal water

Water sources details

85 gpm well; seasonal 3-inch water line and year-round 1 1/4-inch water line supply hydrants throughout entire farm

Barns, sheds or other structures

Available

Farm infrastructure details

Year-round farm store. 4 barns, including one with town water, electricity, and insulated year-round wash/pack facility. Four greenhouses heated by a high-efficiency biomass boiler and buried hot-water distribution. Five unheated hoophouses and two caterpillar tunnels. Woven-wire/high-tensile fencing can power electric fence on the entire farm.

Farmer housing

Available

Farmer housing details

Farmhouse with (2) 3-bedroom apartments and 1 efficiency apartment for a total of 7 bedrooms, 2 kitchens and 3 bathroooms; 2920 sq ft. Original 1830s construction was comprehensively updated in 2018 with new windows, roof, siding, electrical, plumbing, and mini-split heating system.

Equipment and machinery

Available

Equipment and machinery details

Extensive list of field, wash/pack, and refrigeration equipment, along with packaging supplies, available on request.
Tenure Arrangement

Tenure arrangement

Property for sale
Property for rent

Property for sale

This property is a shared-ownership situation. We own and are offering for sale our farm business, which includes all of the buildings and other "improvements" to the property: a house, a farm store, several barns and greenhouses. We are also offering for sale all of the equipment and supplies that we have used to farm this land. **The sale price listed below is an estimate; the final sale price will be based on an "as-restricted" appraisal of the improvements** We hope to have the appraisal in place by late winter. A separate sale of the farm store business to our farm store manager is a possible option, which would reduce the purchase price to the new farmer.

Sale price

$661,000

Property for lease

The land on this parcel is owned by the North Amherst Community Farm land trust (NACF,) who has an interest in maintaining the land in an active farming with ties to the community. We have a lease on the property for a 50 year term with 3 options to extend for another 50 years; in other words, well beyond our lifetime. We are open to creative transition strategies, including leasing some or all of the farm business, for a time, and working with and/or for the new owners to ensure a successful transition
Additional Information

Description

Simple Gifts Farm is located on the North Amherst Community Farm (NACF) property, which was preserved in 2006 with the goal of creating a community farm.  Over the past 17 years, we have built the formerly neglected farm into a thriving community asset, with extensive infrastructure for year-round organic vegetable production and sales, including over 10,000 square feet of indoor growing space heated by a centralized biomass boiler, a year-round farm store, and large capacity for storing vegetables for winter sale.  

We have an innovative ground-lease land tenure model that is designed to keep the farm affordable and in active farming, while ensuring that the farmer receives compensation for their investments in the property. The land itself is owned by the North Amherst Community Farm land trust, and leased to Simple Gifts Farm on a 50-year term with 3 options to renew for an additional 50 years. All “improvements” (including buildings) on the property are owned by the farmer. This includes all buildings, farmhouse, walk-in coolers, a well and waterlines, and a spine of fence that runs the length of the farm. These improvements can only be sold to a buyer who the land trust deems capable of running a comparable farm business, and cannot be sold for more than an appraised agricultural value. The primary way that this affects affordability is in the case of the farmhouse, whose appraised agricultural value will be far below the market value of a house in such close proximity to the University of Massachusetts. The new farmer would enter into a similar lease with NACF, and would need to be approved by that organization.  This model is known as a "ground lease" and is similar to the arrangement that affordable housing land trusts use.  It is designed to allow the farmer to invest in the property and build equity, in their farm business, while removing speculative real-estate-based increases in value.  More information about our lease model can be found at http://equitytrust.org/category/publications/farm-resources/.  

We have great relationships with our customers (1000-1400 people open our weekly newsletter,) land trust, and neighboring farms, who provide products for our farm store.  Our retail location, approximately a mile from the University of Massachusetts, is fantastic and the farm store business has room to grow. Massachusetts has great support for farm and food businesses, and grant funding could be used to expand the store and add a kitchen facility. We have a well-established Pick-Your-Own strawberry business, and an annual Harvest Festival that attracts hundreds of visitors.    The land trust that owns our farmland has always been supportive of our efforts, and continues to provide support that is far above what is required of them.

We have invested heavily in improving our soil quality over the years, by rotating cropland with pasture, and incorporating micronutrients.  In recent years, we have taken our soil health work to another level as we have developed systems for no-till production and purchased equipment for a transferred-mulch no-till system.

We are committed to ensuring a successful transition, and will work with the new farmers to teach them our systems and learn about how our infrastructure works.  While our ultimate goal is to find a new farmer who would take on the long-term lease, we would be willing to lease some or all of our farm equipment and infrastructure, and sublease the farmland, for a period of 1-5 years in a transition to ownership. We are also open to working with and/or for the new owners to ensure a successful transition. Our timeline is somewhat flexible; we would like to exit full-time farming 2023, but are fully committed to keeping the business running until the next farmers are ready to take over.

A complete list of items for sale can be provided on request.  The $661,000 is an estimate of the value of the "improvements," buildings and other real estate connected to the leased land; these items must be sold at an appraised agricultural value, estimated to be completed by mid-Winter 2023.  Greenhouses, equipment and other parts of the farm business are valued at an additional $267,000, and supplies and inventory are estimated at $113,000.

Find out more about us and the operation at:

https://www.simplegiftsfarmcsa.com/

https://www.facebook.com/simplegiftsfarmamherst

https://www.instagram.com/simplegiftsfarmamherst/

https://twitter.com/smple_gfts_farm

Supporting Documentation

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