HONEY CREEK, Iowa — Making good on its promise, the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT) sold a farm to beginning farmers Tanna and John Piniarski for more than 50 percent under market rate.
“Our job is to get affordable land into the hands of regenerative table food farmers,” said Community Engagement Specialist Suzan Erem. “Thanks to a lot of good people, we were able to do that.”
The farm, sold in 2015 to SILT at a deep discount by Honey Creek resident Joe Driscoll, was the first acquisition by the nonprofit organization. The group took out a loan to save the farm from sheriff’s sale and Driscoll pledged to help raise the funds for the group to own it outright, but illness and other major life events didn’t permit it.
SILT then put the farm on the market for the discounted price with the requirement that a conservation easement, or voluntary landowner agreement that keeps it in sustainable food farming for good, be placed on it upon sale. The Piniarskis, Omaha natives who moved to Glenwood, Iowa two years ago, understand the trade-off.
“We are excited to start our long-time dream of becoming a part of the next generation of young regenerative farmers,” said Tanna Piniarski. “We couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity given to us from SILT, Joe Driscoll, and the small Iowa community to grow food the way it was always meant to be grown.”
Erem credited the support of Cienega Capital, which provided a creative funding opportunity that allowed the original purchase of the fund and which gave SILT the time it needed to see the farm protected with a SILT easement.
The Sustainable Iowa Land Trust protects 14 farms for a total of 1,134 acres across Iowa. Its mission is to permanently protect land to grow healthy table food. More information can be found at silt.org.
–Sustainable Iowa Land Trust