Equity Trust provides technical assistance around a wide range of land tenure issues, with a primary focus on preserving affordable farms for farmers and the communities they serve.
We provide counseling on land tenure issues (by phone, email, and on site) to farmers, community groups, land owners, land trusts, and others seeking to protect and preserve permanently affordable working farms or other property resources for community benefit. We provide model documents for alternative approaches to farm ownership and we help adapt these models to particular local situations, through document-review, phone and email consultations, and on-site technical assistance.
Particular topics regarding which Equity Trust can deliver expert assistance include the following:
- Basic issues relating to the protection of land and other property resources for community benefit.
- Approaches to acquisition of real estate utilizing shared ownership between individuals and nonprofits representing community interests.
- Development of a project vision and essential partnerships—Whether the idea starts with a farmer, a land owner, a land trust or other community members, we can assist in the identification of partners, development of successful working relationships, and creation of a vision that addresses the needs of the various stakeholders and the broader community.
- Identification of the most appropriate approaches, ownership models, and protection strategies for a particular situation.
- Identification of project objectives and development of a project timeline.
- Development, as needed, of fundraising strategies, a farmer selection process, and other key tasks.
- Public outreach including development of printed and web materials as well as development of public presentations of the project to explain the importance of the effort share stories of similar projects that have succeeded elsewhere.
- Negotiation of the terms of land tenure to be established through a lease or easement.
- Assistance working with an appraiser to obtain an appraisal of the agricultural value of the farm buildings and land.
- Drafting of specialized documents including: specialized long-term ground leases permitting lessee-ownership of improvements subject to resale restrictions (for residential, agricultural, and other uses); design of conservation easements including specialized easements for agricultural property with options to purchase at restricted prices; design of resale restrictions for use with ground leases or conservation easements.
Equity Trust charges based on a sliding scale. The base rate is $100 per hour or $800 per day, plus expenses. This rate is sometimes substantially reduced, or fees may be waived altogether. In general, Equity Trust does not charge for initial consultations or for responding to spot questions by phone or email.
Equity Trust Fund
A revolving loan fund that makes low-interest loans to community supported agriculture (CSA) farmers, cooperatives, community land trusts, conservation land trusts, and other nonprofit organizations. Loan requests for acquisition of land or conservation easements, capital improvements, construction, equipment, predevelopment, refinancing, and working capital are all eligible. Priority is given to loans where primary beneficiaries are low or moderate income individuals or communities; projects that create permanent affordability; community-based, grassroots projects; and non-profit borrowers. Collateral is normally required.
Equity Trust Fund loans are typically between $5,000 and $150,000 and we generally offer interest rates of between 5% and 7%. When a project requires more than $200,000, the Equity Trust Fund normally prefers to participate in conjunction with other lenders. Loan terms can be for up to five years. Once the loan fund has received a complete borrower application, the staff and loan committee is typically able to approve and issue a loan within a month. The Equity Trust Fund charges a loan initiation fee of $200, or 1% of the value of the loan, whichever is larger.
Visit our website for more information on loan application and procedures.