Poudre Valley Community Farms, a Land Cooperative (PVCF), provides a fresh approach to land transition, soil preservation, and the perpetuation of the next generation of family run farms. Using a cooperative business model, PVCF empowers communities to purchase farmland and offers long-term leases to farmers and ranchers producing food for local consumers. This land is threatened by development and gravel mining, but is better suited to growing vegetables.
PVCF was founded as a cooperative in June 2015 by a group of soil lovers and local food advocates who targeted their first project as the purchase of a 52-acre parcel of land to lease to Native Hill Farm, a successful small-scale family vegetable farm in Fort Collins, Colorado. Native Hill’s owners, Nic Koontz and Katie Slota, have been in business for seven years and are known for being skilled producers and caring community members. They have been leasing land at their current location for four years and are looking to scale up to meet the growing demand for local produce in the region. To do this, they are seeking a larger, long-term home for their farming operation. In addition, they would like use this opportunity to create access to land for other farmers in the community by sub-leasing smaller plots to viable farming businesses without their own secure land and water tenure. Their farm business is financially strong and pays them a living wage but, like many small-scale farmers, they cannot afford to purchase land and water in the Fort Collins area.
PVCF has garnered support from Larimer County Open Lands and the Larimer County Commissioners to collaborate on a conservation easement for the 52-acre property. This easement will forever limit the land’s use to agriculture, reducing its market value and, consequently, the total funds required for the land purchase. A survey conducted by PVCF showed very strong community support from individuals interested in purchasing member-owner shares to fund the Cooperative’s land purchase. PVCF is currently finalizing membership agreements for its fundraising drive and will begin taking pledges this fall. The Cooperative’s fundraising campaign will cover the $520,000 land purchase, $75,000 for needed improvements to the land (e.g. pole barn, basic utilities), and provide an operating budget of $14,000.
Beetcoin proceeds would serve as seed money for the fundraising needed to purchase our first property: a 52-acre plot of prime agricultural land. There is urgency in seeding this fundraising campaign. The Cooperative has targeted completion of the conservation easement transaction and the land purchase agreement for the first quarter of 2016, in order to establish the lease with Native Hill Farm so they can begin preparing for the 2016 growing season. This gives the farmers time to start the process of rebuilding the soil, restoring the land and working toward organic certification.