Background and Information
Thank you for your interest in the Crow Hill Farm in Chester, Vermont. The Vermont Land Trust (VLT) is working to provide a farmer with the opportunity to acquire this 263-acre property. VLT is seeking a farmer who will operate a commercial farm business and contribute to the agricultural community. The farm has been well-maintained and the land can be certified organic.
Farm Transition Description
VLT currently owns Crow Hill Farm and is committed to working with an incoming buyer on this transition. During VLT’s interim ownership and through the remainder of the conservation process, VLT plans to lease the farm to the buyer for approximately one year. At the end of the conservation process the buyer will acquire the farm. VLT is interested in finding a buyer who will take over responsibilities of operating the farm in 2017, if possible.
The Crow Hill Farm is located on Flamstead Road in Chester with quick access to Interstate 91. The farmland includes productive agricultural soils: 80 acres have prime and statewide-rated soils. The land is gently rolling and well-drained. There are 45 tillable acres and an additional 45 acres of pasture.
Farm structures include:
- Farmhouse: four bedrooms – well-maintained
- Dairy barn: 100 tie stalls
- Garage: 20’x30’
- Equipment shed: 24’x75’
- Equipment shed: 36’x33’
- Three small sheds
A drilled well provides water to the house and barn. The farm is enrolled in the Use Value Appraisal (Current Use) program; taxes last year were $7,900. The woodland has been managed with occasional selective harvesting in accordance with a management plan.
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The farm will be sold subject to a perpetual farmland conservation easement that will allow all types of agricultural uses and new agricultural structures. The easement will include an option to purchase at agricultural value. This option allows VLT to purchase the farm at its agricultural value should the buyer (or a future owner) attempt to sell the land to a non-farmer. This provision is added to the easement to ensure the long-term affordability of the property to future farmers.
The easement will allow the existing house and farm structures to be repaired or enlarged and new farm structures to be constructed. If needed for the viability of the farm operation, additional farm-labor housing may be constructed. There will be a designated “building envelope” of approximately five acres where farm and forestry structures may be built without prior approval of VLT. The final size and delineation of the complex will be configured to provide long-term utility to the farmer.
Purchase Price of the Farm
The purchase price is $401,000. This is the current appraised value subject to the conservation easement restrictions.
VLT plans to lease the farm to the buyer for approximately one year while the conservation process is completed. The buyer will have a written lease with VLT and a purchase and sales agreement to acquire the farm for $401,000. VLT asks a buyer to maintain all aspects of the farm and pay all utilities during the lease. Any other lease terms will be negotiated between the buyer and VLT.
Capital for Infrastructure Investment
A buyer may submit a proposal that includes a request to VLT for a loan of up to $50,000 for infrastructure improvements needed to start the proposed farm operation at Crow Hill Farm. VLT and the selected buyer will negotiate the final terms of the loan.
We are hosting two open houses at the farm to allow potential buyers to see the property. They will be on Saturday, March 4 and Thursday, March 9, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
We strongly recommend attendance at an open house, since there is limited availability to see the farm outside of these dates. Interested parties are asked to respond if planning to attend.
VLT will select a proposal from a buyer who best fits the following criteria:
- Price: (a) willingness of the farmer to meet the asking price; and (b) ability to pay cash at closing and/or proof that all necessary purchase financing has been, or can be, secured.
- Farm Enterprise: The farming enterprise described in the farmer’s proposal is: (a) well-suited to the size, soils, and configuration of the farm; (b) well-adapted to local markets for farm products and will contribute to the local farm economy; (c) likely to encourage long-term commercial use of the farmland; and (d) economically feasible.
- Farming Experience: Demonstrated farming experience and training that relates to the proposed farm operation.
- Food & Fiber: Priority will be given to those proposals where food or fiber for human use is produced.
VLT is often presented with several good proposals, so this is a competitive process. Reaching a final decision on a farm-buyer involves several steps. A decision-making team consisting of VLT staff members will reach a consensus on the top-tier proposals, followed by in-person interviews and reference checks for top tier applicants. Additionally, VLT will seek input from an independent advisory committee before reaching a final decision. Upon completion of this process, a farmer will be selected.
Requirements of Proposal
If you are interested in submitting a proposal, we will need the following by April 4, 2017:
- Any conditions on a purchase. This is not binding, rather it is an indication of 1) what you would be willing to pay and under what terms; 2) when you would be able to close on the purchase; and 3) what you might condition your offer on should you be selected as the buyer of the property (e.g. the sale of your home, financing, etc.).
- Documentation that you can finance the purchase price. VLT does not expect a letter of approval for financing at the time of the proposal submission. Please indicate the anticipated source of financing, this can be a cash flow projection; a farm-business balance sheet; a statement of your assets/net worth; or it can be any combination of such materials that will assure us that you have the financial resources to complete the purchase or pay the rent. If you are selected as a finalist, you will need to secure a letter from a bank approving financing at that time.
- Preliminary land-use plan for the farm. This would include a broad overview of the near- and long-term use of the land. Please indicate any changes and improvements to the property you envision and how you would finance these improvements; be sure to provide documentation for this financing.
- A three-year income and expense projection of your proposed farm operation.
- Your qualifications that indicate you can successfully execute your business plan. Strong agricultural references would be very helpful.
- Any other information that you think is important for us to consider. This may include an analysis of markets to sell products, a SWOT analysis, or press regarding past agricultural operations.
We look forward to hearing from you.