Farmland Lease Program
Farmland Lease Program
The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust (NWALT) is proud to announce a new opportunity for farmers interested in the production of fruits, vegetables, and similar crops in the Northwest Arkansas region. Through the NWA Food Systems Initiative, NWALT is offering underserved farmers the opportunity to sublease certain designated tracts of farmland on a dedicated property to help support sustainable farming practices in NWA. The Farmland Lease Program (the “Program”) is available to beginning and experienced farmers who are interested in fruit and or vegetable production. Approved applicants will have access to water and electric utility infrastructure, shared access to farm equipment and harvesting facilities with neighboring participant farmers. In addition, farmers accepted into the program will have access to education, training, and other resources to help them succeed.
A major barrier faced by new and established farmers is gaining access to affordable farmland. Small-scale farming in Northwest Arkansas (NWA) has increased with the popularity and success of local farmers markets, “farm to table” restaurants and local procurement in food service programs. However, the overall number of farms and acreage dedicated to farming in NWA has decreased for the past decade, according to the USDA agriculture Census.
While the population growth in NWA has created opportunities across a variety of industries, the community’s demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables continues to outpace supply. In 2020, the Walton Family Foundation launched the NWA Food Systems Initiative to strengthen the region’s capacity to grow food for NWA’s growing population. The Program supports the NWA Food Systems Initiative by increasing farmers’ access to affordable farmland and farming resources, and by keeping vital farmland available to produce fruits and vegetables for area residents.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who can apply for participation in the Program?
Ideal candidates have some previous farming experience, strong farming references, and a plan to develop a diversified and regenerative agricultural enterprise with a focus on fruit and/or vegetable production at scale (up to 10 to 15 acres over time) with a primary portion of their enterprise dedicated to wholesale production and sales. (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, intuitions, restaurants, and other channels. Participants are not limited to only wholesale production). Applicants are required to submit a business plan with financial projections and a farm conservation plan.
What are the costs to participate in the Program?
Participants will be required to pay a security deposit, rent, utilities, and the costs necessary to obtain and maintain business insurance. In addition, participants are required to cover the costs of their operations. Through a grant to support the program and offset some of the expenses in starting a farm, the NWA Land Trust will also provide support to participant farmers including access to education and resources to help them achieve success. (See the rate sheet in the resources section for more information on costs).
What infrastructure is available to participants in the Program?
Work is underway to establish road access, water infrastructure, electricity connections as well as a pack shed for harvesting and postproduction of fruits or vegetables. In addition, participants will have access to shared equipment including a wash and pack line as well as cold storage. Participants will be required to provide their own specialized equipment if needed for their specific farming operations.
Can I operate other farm enterprises on my tract?
Yes, other secondary farm enterprises that do not take away from the focus of growing fruits and or vegetables are acceptable depending on their fit with the available farm tract. Additional farm enterprises should not interfere with the overall conservation values of the property and should complement regenerative agricultural practices. There is more information about what secondary farm enterprises are permissible in the application for the Program.
What if I want to farm with friends or partners to share a tract?
Joint or collective type farming arrangements will be considered provided those involved have created a legal structure for their operation. The goal of this program is to help farmers scale production and increase the amount of locally grown food available at
What are the lease terms?
NWALT is offering up to five-year leases with renewal options for additional three-year periods pursuant to the terms of a Sublease Agreement. A copy of the Sublease Agreement will be made available to prospective farmers once their application has been submitted and processed by NWALT.
Where is the property located?
NWALT is managing the property located near Berryville, Carroll County, Arkansas of approximately 100 acres. The subject property will be subdivided into three tracts, each containing approximately 15 acres, that will be available for the Program participants.
Is housing available on the site?
Participants may provide, at the participant’s expense, their own temporary housing (including tiny homes and RVs) in certain designated areas of the site subject to the approval of NWALT.
When can I see property?
NWALT plans to schedule site visits with applicants as needed, with such visits ideally taking place in groups. A webinar is scheduled at noon April 11, 2023 and will be made available on demand to learn more about the Program and the tracts. Webinar details are on the events page of this site.
How do I sign up and when are applications due?
Please contact Susan Koehler, Farmland Preservation Manager at email@example.com or call 479-966-4666. Applications are accepted at any time and available on this page. Applicants will receive feedback quickly on their qualifications as well as possible next steps.
If accepted, when can I start farming at the property?
NWALT is working to make the site and individual tracts ready for access by participant farmers as soon as possible. Applicants who can start growing soon will receive priority over others who may need more time.
Farmland Preservation Manager
Northwest Arkansas Land Trust
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