advertisement
May 30, 2018

Bowdoinham farmer tackles Maine's challenge of farmland access and transfer

Photo / Kristin Dillon and Blue Horse Photography
Photo / Kristin Dillon and Blue Horse Photography
Abby Sadauckas, a farmer and agricultural service provider of Bowdoinham, has joined the regional group Land For Good, a New England-wide nonprofit whose mission is to ensure the future of farming in the region by putting more farmers more securely on more land.

About Land for Good

Land For Good, based in Keene N.H., is a New England-wide nonprofit organization whose mission is to ensure the future of farming in the region by putting more farmers more securely on more land. With field agents serving all New England states, Land For Good educates, consult, innovates and advocates with and for farm seekers, established farmers, farmland owners, and communities. It is the only organization of its kind, nationally, with a sole focus on farmland access, transfer and tenure.

Abby Sadauckas, a farmer and agricultural service provider of Bowdoinham, has joined the regional group Land For Good, a New England-wide nonprofit whose mission is to ensure the future of farming in the region by putting more farmers more securely on more land.

Sadauckas will help tackle the growing needs of Maine farmers for access to land, support for farm succession and transfer and the need for more secure land tenure.

Like other business sectors, those needs are driven by demographics as more Maine farmers begin to reach retirement age and grapple with hard realities of what to do with their farm. Nearly one-third of Maine's farms and farmland are expected to change hands in the next decade, and access to land is a top challenge facing new and beginning farmers in Maine and nationwide, according to a news release from Land for Good.

Sadauckas will work statewide to provide direct assistance and training to farmers, farm families and farmland owners who are seeking land, want to plan a farm transfer or want to make land available for farming.

Sadauckas will also work with Land For Good's numerous Maine collaborators — like Maine Farmland Trust, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Cultivating Community, among others.

Sharing lessons learned

Sadauckas is a long-time collaborator of Land For Good, as well as a former organizational and farmer-client.

Her professional work combines her experiences as a new farmer with her work as an agricultural service provider. She is the course facilitator for The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association's Farm Beginnings, a farmer-led, community-based whole farm planning course. She also has worked for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension as the manager for a project focused on improving relationships for farm success. Sadauckas is a board member of Bowdoinham Community Development Initiative and serves on the steering committee of Slow Money Maine.

"A Land For Good field agent was instrumental in helping my fiancÚ and I, along with his parents, achieve a farmland lease that honors our shared values," Sadauckas said. "I look forward to working with landowners and land seekers in Maine to bring them the same sense of satisfaction."

An aging farmer population

Photo / Kristin Dillon and Blue Horse Photography
Photo / Kristin Dillon and Blue Horse Photography
Sadauckas and her fiancÚ, Jake Galle, run Apple Creek Farm.

Sadauckas and her fiancÚ, Jake Galle, run Apple Creek Farm. The farm produces MOFGA certified organic, grass-fed beef, goat and lamb, as well as certified organic eggs and poultry (broilers, geese and turkeys). They market their products year-round in nearby Brunswick at farmers' markets.

While beginning farmers often struggle with access to farmland, a related challenge is Maine's aging farmer population.

Nearly one-third of the state's farms and farmland are owned and managed by farmers at or beyond retirement age, according to the U.S. Census of Agriculture). Farmers age 65 and older operate nearly 30% of the state's farms. These senior farmers manage 527,000 acres and own a collective $1 billion in land and agricultural infrastructure, much of which may transfer ownership in the next decade. Yet less than 10% of them have someone under age 45 farming alongside them.

Most are likely to not have an identified successor or succession plan, according to a 2016 study by American Farmland Trust and Land For Good. What these farmers do with their land and other farm assets as they exit farming will shape Maine's agricultural landscape for generations to come.

"As an active farmer and well-respected service provider in Maine agriculture, Abby brings a proven skill set and deep network of professional relationships required for collaboration to address these important issues," says Jim Habana Hafner, executive director of Land For Good. "Farmer-focused, collaborative work to promote access to farmland, secure tenure and farm transfer and succession are all essential to enlarging farming opportunity, strengthening local food systems and preserving farming heritage in Maine. We're thrilled that Abby will be working with us in Maine."

Comments

Type your comment here:

Today's Poll Are you concerned the deregulation of the banking industry puts the country at greater risk of another financial crisis and bank meltdown?<>
ADVERTISEMENTS
Most Popular on Facebook