Farm for Sale in Benson
The Vermont Land Trust’s Farmland Access Program has teamed up with the owners of the MacLaren Farm in Benson, Vermont to find a new farmer to buy the land and run a commercial farm business. Interested farmers will need to submit a proposal (detailed below). The Vermont Land Trust (VLT) and its advisory committee will then select a proposal as part of a competitive process.
The farm is in the process of being conserved with the VLT through the sale of a conservation easement. This will help make the farm affordable to new owners and to protect the land for future generations of farmers. VLT expects to get funding to buy the conservation easement by the end of 2018. By late summer 2019, the current owner, Pat MacLaren, plans to sell a conservation easement to VLT, and then sell the farm to the farm buyer at its appraised agricultural value. Pat will vacate the farm by May 1, 2019 and will lease the farm to the buyer until the buyer’s closing date.
The MacLaren Farm is located at 1622 Carter Street in the scenic, southwest region of Benson. The property has flat, open hayland as well as woods, a few small streams, two ponds, and a wetland. A small tie-stall barn, a pole barn, and a six-bedroom house are located on the land. There was a dairy operation on the farm during the 1960s; the land has since been used for hay and pasture.
Of the 125 acres, around 80 acres are open farmland and 40+ acres are wooded. The farmland is being used for hay and a beekeeper has many hives in the southwest corner of the property. There is a grove of mature black walnut trees that have the potential to be harvested. In short, the farm could be developed for many types of agricultural ventures.
The soils tend toward heavy and moist, as is typical of the Lake Champlain basin. Along the west side of Carter Street and along the north side of Money Hole Road, there are around 52 acres of Kingsbury silty clay loam at 0% to 3% slopes. These soils are suitable for hay and pasture. Other soil types include 12.6 acres of Benson very channery loam at 3% to 15% slopes and 9.2 acres of Benson very channery loam at 25% to 50% slopes. The wooded areas to the west are designated as Farmington-Galway-Galoo complex with 24 acres at 5% to 25% slopes and 26 acres of the same soil type at 25% to 50% slopes.
Water is provided by a drilled well and the septic system has been recently improved with a state-approved design.
The farm includes the following infrastructure with all systems in working order:
- Farmhouse (c. 1850), average condition, 1,840 square feet of living space.
- Greenhouse, 230 square feet, attached to house.
- Former dairy barn (c. 1940), average condition, 6,699 square feet.
- Pole barn, average condition, 576 square feet.
- Equipment shed, average condition.
Purchase Price of the Farm
The purchase price of the farm is $220,000, which is the current appraised value subject to the conservation easement. A buyer will need to secure financing for this amount at closing.
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 conservation easement will include the 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 farm to a non-farmer. This provision helps ensure the availability of the property to future farmers. Additional farm labor housing may be constructed with prior approval.
We are hosting one open house for potential buyers on November 10 from 10 am–2 pm.
We strongly recommend attending an open house, since there is limited availability to see the farm outside of this date. Interested parties are asked to respond if planning to attend.
Additional Materials Available by Request
- Appraisal dated December 2016
- Conservation easement
- Ecological recommendations
- Workbook for cash flow and balance sheet
- Resources for completing a business plan can be found at here.
A home inspection report has not been completed.
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 secure financing at closing (formal financing approval is not necessary to submit a proposal).
- 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 the farmer involves several steps. A decision-making team consisting of VLT staff members and an advisory committee will reach consensus on the top-tier proposals followed by in-person interviews and reference checks.
Requirements of Proposal
If you are interested in submitting a proposal, we will need the following by December 21.
- Any conditions on a purchase. This is not binding, rather an indication of what you would be willing to pay and under what terms, when you would be able to close on the purchase, and 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. This can be a projection on cash flow; 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. If you are selected as the buyer, you will need to secure a letter from a bank approving financing.
- A 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.
- A description of your qualifications should indicate that you can successfully execute your business plan. Strong agricultural references are very helpful.
- A marketing plan for products.
- 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.
Please send your offer and related materials to Jon Ramsay, Vermont Land Trust, 8 Bailey Ave., Montpelier, VT 05602.
To request additional materials, call Jon at (802) 533-7705. If you have any further questions about the farm’s resources or the application process, or if you cannot make this deadline but are interested in the farm, contact us anyway; we will keep you informed of the progress of the farm sale.