Agrarian Trust

Land Access Strategy: The Community Land Trust and Indian Line Farm

In a uniquely collaborative arrangement developed by the Schumacher Center for a New Economics, the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires, the Berkshire Highlands Program of The Nature Conservancy, and farmers Elizabeth Keen and Alex Thorp joined together to purchase Indian Line Farm in southwestern Massachusetts. The aims of the partnership are to preserve the first CSA farm project in North America, to maintain it as a working organic farm, to protect the adjacent sensitive wetlands, and to provide small-scale farmers access to affordable farmland.

Working with the Schumacher Center for a New Economics to draft the innovative legal documents, The Nature Conservancy acquired easements on the property to permanently limit future development, while the Community Land Trust acquired the title to the land and is leasing it to Elizabeth and Alex on a 99-year basis. The farmers themselves have purchased the house, barn, and other buildings, and will gain equity through any improvements made to the farm during their tenure. The Community Land Trust retains an option to purchase the buildings and improvements back, and to resell them at their replacement cost to another farmer. Addressing the critical connections between ecology, economy, and community, this model project is protecting habitat, preserving agricultural property, and keeping small-scale, organic farming viable. The participation of the two land trusts provided a way for Berkshire consumers to successfully finance the purchase of the land so that the farmers can continue to farm organically and practice wise stewardship without having to use unsustainable growing methods to pay off land debt quickly.

  • Indian Line Farm Lease Agreement: Based on leases used by the Jewish National Fund and modified over the years within Massachusetts Law. Consult with your local lawyer for application to your local laws. The object is to provide leaseholders with ownership of all buildings and other improvements on the site while maintaining ownership of the land itself within the Trust. The resale restrictions call for the leaseholder to retain the current replacement value of improvements on the site, adjusted for deterioration, without also capturing the speculative land value.    Online  |  PDF
  • Addendum to the Lease  This addendum is for the benefit of a mortgager of the building on leased land. It allows a mortgager to be free from resale restrictions in the event of a foreclosure. There is also ample provision for the CLT to correct any default before foreclosure.    Online  |  PDF
  • Land Use Plan  Details the tillable land, buffer areas, and other uses of the land. It reflects the combined ecological, community, farming, and private homestead interests of the partnership.    PDF
  • Land Management Plan  Developed in cooperation with the farmers, the management plan sets the requirements for crop and livestock production to ensure that the land stays in use and is farmed in accordance with organic standards.    Online  |  PDF
  • Conservation Easement  The easement protects the ecological characteristics of the farm.    Online  |  PDF
  • Notice of Lease  The Notice of Lease, description of the property leased, and the Land Use Plan are recorded at the registry of deeds after signing.   Online  |  PDF
  • Bill of Sale    Online  |  PDF
  • Property Boundaries    Online  |  PDF