The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust (NWALT) is an Arkansas nonprofit corporation based in Fayetteville, Arkansas. In consultation with its grant funders, NWALT has created and is engaged in the management and administration of the Program. The primary purpose of the Program is to help underserved farmers gain access to farmland in Northwest Arkansas to grow fruits, vegetables, herbs and similar crops, and to provide them access to education, training and support. Applicants must submit a business plan with a primary focus of the farming operation dedicated to wholesale production. (For the purposes of this program wholesale is defined as the production of fruits and/or vegetables specifically at quantities suitable to sell to grocery stores, institutions restaurants, and other channels). Applicants to the Program must be willing to focus on cultivating such crops using best management practices to foster healthy soils for a participation period up to five-years pursuant to the terms of a Sublease Agreement with NWALT. Long term leasing beyond the initial five-year term is an objective of the Program. A copy of the Sublease Agreement and terms will be provided to approved applicants by NWALT. ).
NWALT currently anticipates that it will accept at least three applicants for the Program (the "Participants"), who will each farm separate adjacent tracts of land managed by NWALT. Each tract of farmland will be part of a larger parcel of property managed by NWALT totaling approximately 100 acres of farmland in the aggregate (the “Property”). Shared infrastructure such as water access, a pack shed and some equipment will be made available to Participants, but applicants are encouraged to have access to any specialized equipment they may need for their specific farm/business plan and enterprise. Participants may have the option to establish temporary housing on designated areas of their subtract to live on the Property during their lease period. In the event a Participant stops growing permissible crops while participating in the Program, NWALT shall have the right, but not the obligation, to terminate the Participant’s Sublease Agreement, in which event NWALT will find a replacement tenant for the Program and make the property available to such replacement tenant.
Each Participant is responsible for paying its costs and expenses related to such Participant’s farming operation and enterprise and certain administrative costs to NWALT to assist with NWALT’s management and administration of the Program. NWALT will advise Participants of the expected costs as it evaluates each Participant’s business plan. Possible costs and fees may include, but are not limited to, the following: security deposits, rent, storage fees, the cost of access to and use of shared equipment on the Property, utility fees and business insurance, and other inputs specific to their business plans (for example, cost of seeds, deer fencing, soil amendments).
Diversified farm plans are encouraged, and a Participant may engage in other pre-approved farm enterprises in addition to the primary farm enterprise of growing fruits and/or vegetables, including small scale livestock or poultry production, agritourism and any other legal farm activities under Federal or Arkansas law, in each case as pre-approved by NWALT. Notwithstanding the foregoing and for the avoidance of doubt, Participants are prohibited from engaging in the cultivation and sale of cannabis or marijuana (medical or recreational), which, while legal for medical usage under the laws of the state of Arkansas, is still illegal pursuant to current Federal law.
The application process for the Program may take up to a few weeks in order for NWALT to adequately review all applications. Each applicant is encouraged to seek advice from an attorney to review this opportunity throughout each stage of the process. The undersigned applicant’s agreement to the terms of this Memorandum of Understanding allows NWALT to continue to process the applicant’s application for consideration.
This is a new program and NWALT will be learning along with the participants what may work best to improve affordable land access for underserved farmers specifically focused on fruit and or vegetable production at scale. While we have done a lot of research to structure a successful program for participants, results may vary. There is some degree of uncertainty in how the Farmland Lease Program may evolve. This is an exciting time for all those working to improve the NWA Food System, and we hope you will be a part of this effort.
Further consideration of this application by NWALT does not guarantee that Applicant will be accepted as a Participant in the Program.
I, Applicant, have read and understand the foregoing
memorandum of understanding and wish to proceed with submission of my application.