- Why a Partnership, Rather than a Lease
- First Year With Partner
- Attributes We Seek in a Partner
- Partnership Agreement
Why a Partnership, Rather than a Lease
I come from a farming family and I am the end of the line. I want to create an opportunity for a farmer to farm in spite of the fact that he or she did not inherit a family farm.
As my husband and I come to terms with shocking realities—neither of our children wants to farm, we are becoming too old and infirm to farm, most of the people who have wanted to rent our farm are not farmers—We need to make serious plans about mentoring. We want to do what we can to assure our new partner will lead a satisfying, successful, middle-class life as a farmer.
When I use the term “mentor,” I do not mean we can teach a non-farmer to be a farmer. We will not live that long. Learning to be a successful farmer requires a lifetime. We have encountered individuals who ask “How hard can farming be? It looks pretty basic.” We become mute, unable to respond, remembering unforeseen “surprises” we have encountered and understanding there is much we do not know and have yet to encounter. However we can share insights about our farm—-our experience with its climate, soil, irrigation, neighbors, markets, weeds, wildlife, and equipment. We consider and treasure experience elders and neighbors have shared with us.Return to top
First Year With Partner
- Preserves, Dried Herbs
We need approximately 15 head of cattle and approximately 15 chickens, or appropriate numbers of other livestock to graze the field after crops and cover crops, graze non-field areas to help control weeds, and graze yards to eliminate lawn mowing. Meat and eggs for farm consumption will be raised on site. Extra meat and eggs will be sold.
There are 50 100-foot rows in the garden. 42 of the rows are divided into seven groups of six rows, for the purpose of crop rotation. It has been my experience that certified organic produce is not actively sought in our region. With time, this is likely to change. Rather than waiting for the change, we are focusing on certified organic garden seed and dried products that can be sold on the Internet.
Produce for farm consumption will be raised on site.
Preserves are made in the inspected kitchen and sold at Community Merchants in La Grande. Dried herbs are prepared on the farm, sold in the farm stand, at Community Mercants and on the Internet.
Grain will be grown in the 45-acre field in 2020, as crop rotation. We anticipate harvesting a portion of the crop as hay for livestock and combining remaining grain as a cash crop.
We have approximately 500 row feet planted in garlic to be harvested mid-summer 2020. Some of the heads will be cured and saved for planting in the fall 2020, the best will be braided and sold in the Portland market, and the least perfect will be used for farm consumption and sold locally.
Our new partner will draft future business plans. Wine grapes? Larger herds? Mushrooms? Green house? ... Crops that never crossed our minds? ... Value added products? ... Exports to Asia?
Attributes We Seek in a Partner
- Farmer -- Experience and skills raising field crops and garden produce. He/she would know what regenerative agriculture entails and would understand the importance of healthy, living soil. A farmer would know how to operate tractors, combines, standard transmission vehicles, and chain saws among all the other tools and equipment on a small farm.
- Rancher -- Experience and skills raising livestock. A self-sufficient, self-contained farm involves both animals and plants.
- Life Long Learner
Equipment and tools are major farm investments that must be maintained and cared for if the farming operation is to be sustainable.
A small family farmer works for himself/herself; he/she is not an employee with a supervisor who makes decisions and tells the farmer what to do and how to do it. A farmer must make his/her own wise decisions about everything on the farm. A small farmer is a manager, bookkeeper, correspondent, market developer, scheduler, business plan writer, human resource director...along with being the primary physical laborer.
Even the wisest individuals continue to learn new skills, strategies and facts from observation and thought. Life in the twenty-first century is moving and changing too quickly to allow any of us to feel we know it all, or know enough.
- Housing and Food Preparation
- Division of Labor
- Division of Income
- Business Meetings
- Interest in the Business
We will negotiate and enter a formal partnership agreement. The terms I have sketched below contain my initial proposal. We will discuss, think about and negotiate every detail. Ideally, the partnership would start at the beginning of an agricultural season.
Housing needs of our new partner will depend on size of his/her household. Existing housing includes a tiny one-bedroom cottage on the farm, an unheated bunkhouse with two sets of bunk beds usually occupied by interns in the summer, bedrooms in the old farmhouse and a tiny cabin about a mile away from the farm on Main Street in the City of Union. New housing could be constructed or the cottage could be expanded in the future.
During the agricultural season, roughly April through October, I prefer that meals be shared by everyone who lives and works on the farm. When the weather is warm, we dine outdoors in the shade of the solar panels.
Our partner will operate farm equipment tilling, planting and harvesting field crops; will use hand tools to prepare soil, plant, harvest and braid garlic; will use hand tools to prepare soil, plant and harvest produce for farm consumption; will care for the livestock; will learn how to conduct the business of the farm; and will begin to form his/her own plans for the farm.
Depending on who our partner has in his/her household, a significant other or other family members may also join as partners.
My husband would like to spend his time repairing and maintaining farm equipment, and operating farm equipment as our partner’s assistant. He also enjoys cooking occasionally.
I want to spend most of my time downsizing generations of accumulated stuff and restoring the farmhouse; growing, harvesting and drying herbs; and braiding garlic At the beginning of the partnership, I will continue as manager of Dora’s Garden LLC. I am eager to transfer management responsibility to the next generation. I will be delighted to take my turn at cooking for the farm. I would not be delighted to be the only cook, and I am even less enthusiastic about being the only person who cleans up after meals. I would like to make jams for sale at Community Merchants in their commercial kitchen; and I would like to stock the farmstand with dried herbs, antiques, special order eggs, and miscellany.
Over time my husband and I will be on the farm less and less. We would like to retire from farming to enjoy city life in Portland.
Income from the farm will be used to pay bills of the farm (eg. property taxes, insurance, utilities, repairs, supplies). After bills of the farm are paid, the remainder of the income will go to our partner.
Our partnership will have formal monthly meetings. By “formal” I do not mean adherence to Roberts Rules of Order, rather I mean a specific time will be designated. The partners will decide how the meeting will be conducted so that each partner can report on progress, make suggestions, and be heard.
Dora’s Garden LLC is the entity which conducts the farming operation. The only members of the LLC are my husband and I. The assets of the LLC are the farm equipment, the tools, livestock, any seeds, checking account, and any inventory. When employees are hired, they are hired by the LLC. The LLC pays for the workers’ compensation insurance for employees.
After our partner has been with us for a full year, our partner will begin to acquire a membership interest in the LLC.
Dora’s Garden contains approximately 52 acres in Union County, Oregon, Township 4 South, Range 40 East of the Willamette Meridian, Section 18. 40 acres lie within the city limits of the City of Union. The land has irrigation rights from Little Creek and from Swackhamer Irrigation Ditch.
A rough map of the farm, not drawn to scale
The land is owned by my mother’s trust. When my sister and I both die, the trust will terminate and the land will be owned by my son and daughter. I do not know what my son and daughter will want from the land in the future. I am guessing each of my children will want to be able to visit the farm.
I suggest a lease among my son, my daughter and Dora's Garden LLC. The rental fee would be modest. Most importantly, the lease would include a right-of-first-refusal for the operator of the farm.
- Books -- I recommend
- Certified Organic
- Treatment of Animals
Robert Reich, Saving Capitalism, ISBN13: 9781785781766
Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, ISBN13: 9780871568779
Gabe Brown, Dirt to Soil, ISBN13: 9781603587631
“Socialism,” has become a dirty pejorative term to hurl at new ideas that seem to threaten how we do things in our country. In the past, we have learned sometimes it makes sense for a service to be funded by tax payers, and for everyone to receive the benefit.
Public streets and roads are examples of public projects paid for by tax-payers, benefiting everyone. Imagine groups of disgruntled tax-payers demanding each property owner be allowed to erect gates and charge tolls to motorists who travel on easements over their land, which are now public roads. Imagine spirited protests against “socialized roads.” Imagine how successful protests would slow down physical mobility. This imagined unrest could be a scene in a dystopian fantasy.
Some years ago, when the Affordable Care Act (“Obama Care”) was being debated, I had a couple of interns on the farm from Germany. Angela was mystified that health care for everyone could be controversial. Health Care for All Oregon has posted a comprehensive FAQ page on their website. https://www.hcao.org/faq
Since the Green Revolution following World War II, conventional agriculture has become dependent on big agribusiness selling synthetic fertilizer, sophisticated equipment, herbicides, and pesticides. This system earns large profits for agribusiness for the time being, but it can not continue forever as laboring farmers become poorer, and we poison our surroundings.
Dora’s Garden has been certified organic since 2012 by Oregon Tilth. While organic certification is neither flawless nor always pleasant, today the concept seems to fit my values best. As our civilization and its institutions change, I may live to embrace something I have yet to encounter that should replace organic certification.
We do our best to treat all animals humanely and respectfully. We hope that all animals including our pets, our livestock and wild animals lead healthy, natural lives. We do not want any animal to suffer at the hands of human beings. Harvesting livestock for meat is done as quickly and with as little stress to the animal as possible. We understand that life is brief and precious.
We trap stray cats, which we spay or neuter. When we have a litter of cats, we socialize the kittens, have them spayed or neutered, have them vaccinated with first shots and find homes for them. Wild cats who cannot be adoped live in our barn, or in the barns of others, and are fed and cared for after we spay or neuter them.