EAST AURORA, N.Y. — To lease or to own: that is a question all farmers must ask themselves. Two young farmers will discuss how they arrived at an answer during a facilitated conversation hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County (CCE Erie) on Saturday, November 14, 9:00 – 10:00 a.m., via Zoom.
Both farmers established successful CSA operations on land permanently protected by conservation easements in Clarence, NY. Steve and Erin Blabac of Root Down Farm, a vegetable operation, lease their land. Ben and Lori Gehl of Providence Creek Farm, a pasture-raised meat operation, purchased their land. Steve and Ben will give brief virtual tours of their farms and then answer questions about how they acquired their land. From lease terms to lessons learned, from search strategies to infrastructure needs, participants can have their questions answered.
This virtual conversation is open to everyone, but may be especially helpful to people without farming backgrounds who want to start a farm or rent land to a farmer. The number of beginning farmers and farmland owners without farming experience is on the rise. It can be difficult for them to understand the multitude of factors that farmers must consider when they evaluate land and decide whether to lease it or own it. Having this understanding will help farmland seekers and owners find a farm or a farmer suited to their needs and desires. Participants will receive some introductory materials about finding land and be invited to submit questions when they register.
About Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County puts knowledge to work to build stronger communities. CCE provides educational programs in Agriculture, 4-H Youth Development, Nutrition, and Consumer Horticulture.
CCE Erie is a Regional Navigator for American Farmland Trust’s Farmland for a New Generation program (FNG-NY). The focal point of the FNG-NY program is the New York Farmland Finder (https://nyfarmlandfinder.org), a website that helps link farmers seeking land and landowners who want to keep their land in farming. Website users can post a farmer or farm profile, search for farmers or farmland, learn about upcoming events, post a job opening and browse resources.
About the Farms
Providence Creek Farm is run by Ben and Lori Gehl, and their five children Jack, Micah, Mattie, Katherine and Grace. Their passion is to produce healthy, clean and delicious food in a way that promotes animal welfare, improves the land, and serves the community. All their animals are raised on rotational grazed pastures and are never given growth hormones or routine antibiotics. To learn more about the farm and how it operates, visit the farm website
Root Down Farm is run by Steve and Erin Blabac. They raise about 10 acres of vegetables each year for their CSA members and restaurants. The farm was started in the spring of 2011 with 50 members. It moved to its current location in 2013 and the CSA has grown to 300 members. The Blabacs are dedicated to bringing people together as a community to support local agriculture by growing safe, fresh and nutritious food using sustainable practices. They have taken the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) Farmer’s Pledge. Visit the farm website to learn more about the pledge and management practices on the farm.
— Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County