Back-Up Plan Farm

Don’t you just love the countryside? Haven’t you always wanted a farm? Or at least one you can visit as a “regular”?

Are you concerned about a possible major economic disruption in the US in the next few years?

Would you like to set up a little emergency back up plan, outside of the standard insurance and economic patterns?

How about joining with a few people to create a shared farm, out in the boonies, where you could retreat to if you needed a little time out of the city?

How about having a “residential CSA” where you own a piece of the production from the farm and can enjoy the good food and fresh air whenever you want?

Have you ever wanted to have a farm but have realized it would be much too expensive for your family, diverting resources from other needs?

Have you been thinking that perhaps it would be a good idea, for a variety of reasons, to have a place in the countryside where you could move some of your finances into real long-term productive assets?

Well, join us. We are creating a social enterprise to meet the needs of families like yours. The farm we are creating will be a refuge in times of peace and times of concern. The farm will be a community of like-minded families interested in cooperating in light of economic instability. The farm will be professionally managed to produce food and other products that your family can use, sell or donate as you see fit. The farm will give you peace of mind in a lot of ways.

[Image of mock-up map]

The basics:

  • 25 shares at $50,000
  • Designed like a co-housing eco-village, managed like a condo association
  • A common facility like an inn or collective clubhouse
  • Each family has their own “eco-cottage” spread out across the property
  • The farm is run by an on-site farming family, with seasonal help
  • Production is focused on seasonal produce but also long-term appreciation
  • Shareholders will create a community at the farm, like a vacation community in good times, like a lifeboat in strife

Here are some photos of a possible location, taken in the winter. It was at the end of a very long dirt road, quite isolated. There might be some better views of the Green or White Mountains from higher up on the property. At any rate, it’s one of many old farms for sale, about 2.5 hours from Boston and 30 minutes from a major medical center in the north country. Though it may have not worked out for the original dairy farming family, it could come back to life with the right capitalization and management plan. We’re thinking about a diverse mix of production – small livestock like chickens and pigs, sheep for fiber, maybe larger animals at some point. Managing the forest for multiple products including timber, maple, mushrooms and specialty products. Building some renewable energy production so the place can function without the grid. Improving the small pond on the site for aquaculture. The sky is the limit in terms of looking at permaculture and other means of perennial production. There’ll have to be some apples growing so we can eventually make some nice apple cider and maybe even a brandy someday!

Use your imagination!

A few hillside pastures in sunny Vermont!

Looking down on the rambling old farmhouse…

Here’s the old farm road passing the barn.

Here’s the link to the Artists’ Rendition of “Year Five at the Farm” [coming soon]

This will be the link to the shareholder prospectus [coming soon]

We’ll also have a draft budget of the Co-Farm Association, Partnership Protocols and Guidelines (the By-laws) and a couple of job descriptions for staff.

Bios of the principals and our relevant experience will also be posted.

Thanks for your interest!


Stay tuned!

-Grey Lee and Darien Crimmin

Examples of a hill farm: The Merck Forest and Farmland Center

Here’s a picture of what our farm could look like – note the windmill barely visible in the middle of the picture on the left. The solar trackers are from Yestermorrow, actually, not Merck.

A little farm village could be assembled.

There could be a barn-raising

Each family has their own eco-lodge on the property, but spends a lot of time in the common buildings at the center.

Whether we have to worry about the collapse of civilization or just the usual things, having a place like a farm in Vermont with an organized, committed group and a well-run productive farm and forestry operation would be a wonderful place to know you could go to, whenever you wanted, to enjoy a little peace and quiet.


10 Replies to “Back-Up Plan Farm”

  1. This is a great start Grey! I think anyone/everyone interested should help contribute ideas to make the website come alive with more ideas and suggestions.

    I’m going to send this to a few folks I know to see if we can get some feedback… but here’s my first take:

    I think it’s important to stress that although this is an eco-villa, co-housing, rural refugia – we want this to be an economically successful investment. Maybe we can put some numbers together in a proforma.

    Also – i think emphasizing zero/low energy cottages is important.

  2. Also… i like the idea of connecting city dwellers to the farm in as many ways as possible, even if they don’t invest. This could be through a retreat center, ski-house or B&B inn, event center, camp, or something else that’s attractive to city folk. Ideally this would evolve into a supplemental business model.

    Basically, the concept is an “eco escape” to regularly bring new life to the farm, and generate some supplemental income.

    I also like the idea of connecting the agriculture/produce back to city centered farmers markets

  3. Okay, we got another lead: 3454 Vt Rte 100 in Warren Vt – this is a site I looked at in September of 2010 – there is one acre along the state road with a battered mobile home. Behind it, the Mad River rushing through a gorge. It’s about 20-30ft down. 80-120ft across. Then, 137 acres of awesome Vermont. A portion that is flat and perhaps cultivatable, mostly forest. Abuts the Green Mtn State Forest. We could get Yestermorrow to design and build a new style covered bridge – they are in the neighborhood. We need to find $330,000! (plus cost of bridge etc…) It’ll go fast.
    Let me know what you think:
    If you go here: you can look up the property ID# – 1000046 and see where it is.
    I’ll try to dig up some pictures.
    Thanks for your interest!

  4. Hi Grey,
    What an amazing idea and opportunity! I wish I had the finances to invest.
    But since I can’t, I wanted to offer my advice on a few things.

    If you aren’t familiar with VT’s Act 250 land use policy, I recommend you contact the district coordinator for the region in which you hope to buy property. Susan Baird at (802) 476-0134. Generally, farming is exempt from this permitting process, but some of the build-out ideas you have may not be. I don’t know for sure though, so I would contact Susan. If you do require a permit, it could add to the cost of the project.
    Since you are an eco-savvy person, I also suggest you touch base with folks from VT Dept of Fish and Wildlife (that’s me!) about wildlife habitat issues and potential managemen, whether or not you require a permit. I am happy to help in any way and can send you on to the right people, depending on what avenues you choose to persue. I may be putting the cart before the horse, but I just wanted to give you a heads up and hope that when the time comes, this retreat/refuge will be able to accommodate not just people, but also the wildlife that VT holds so dear.

    When you have signed on some property, feel free to give me a call and I can help out in any way you need me to. (802) 479-4439.

    Best of luck with this amazing endeavor!

    Amy Alfieri
    NERN 2008

    1. Amy! I will definitely be in touch with you about the many (wild) stakeholders. Thanks for the suggestions, I really appreciate your concerns.

  5. Love this Grey. I’ve been thinking about things like this for awhile as well. My problem is that I just never have $50,000 around haha. But I really like the plan and love the Mad River Valley (lived there for 6 months in Waitsfield before my job here at Skidmore). Keep me posted, maybe I can find a way!

  6. Jen, stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted on how creative we can get to crowdsource this. There are many types of contributions to be made!

  7. Hey Grey!
    I was at myfirst NERN 2012 retreat this past weekend, and shared this back up plan/eco-escape vision with a few people. Very positive feedback. One person suggested a model currently being used in other condo/coop arrangements. She’s digging up the actual legal docs, but it’s something like:

    A partnership or condo association is created and solicits investment shares from interested parties. $5000 starting up to $25,000. This capital is used to leverage bank financing and cover start up costs. Remaining debt needs to be paid before any investor gets paid back, but investors get a minimum return on capital, paid from excess operating income the farm/retreat center brings in through membership and other activities.

    Starting with $5,000 investments would make this more attractive *(possible) for more people. Annual membership dues could range from $500/yr to $2000, depending on # of people in your family and how much you want to use the space. Almost like a timeshare, but more like a cooperative, since nobody would have exclusive visit rights. We would actually encourage overlapping.

    I wonder who else in the ELP network might resonate with this idea??

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