Finger Lakes Agricultural Center
Hector, New York
The Finger Lakes Agricultural Center (FLAC) is a social justice-oriented Ag Center with a focus on equity and training. FLAC will provide opportunities for local farmers, the neighboring community, and visitors to meaningfully interact through the production of food in a value-centered community.
FLAC is a unique project for NEFA, for which we’ll be partnering with the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming, a group that takes an active approach to improving farmer representation. Through FLAC, farmer equity will be made possible for those who may not be able to turn to traditional farmer-lending programs. The Center will serve to attract more farmers of color to the region through Groundswell’s expanded Farm Business Incubator program, while building a fair and sustainable Finger Lakes food system.
By purchasing the historic Woodwind Farm, FLAC will also keep a storied farm in production. For decades the farm had been operated as a dairy and vegetable farm by the Dell family, who were instrumental in starting the Ithaca Farmers Market. With a Greek revival farmhouse, built in 1850, four barns, a machine shop, and silo on-site — all in excellent condition — the land is ready for farmers to get in the ground.
For the 2019 growing season the Center will lease a portion of the 103-acres to prepare for the expansion of the Groundswell Center’s Farm Business Incubator program, the first of its kind in the state. Groundswell Center and NEFA are currently discussing possibilities with other local farmers and expect that terms will be agreed upon soon.
Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming
Entering their 10th year in operation, the Groundswell Center trains the next generation of farmers to develop a sustainable, viable and equitable food system in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.
Through their Farm Business Incubator Program, which was launched in 2012, Groundswell helps farmers overcome the prohibitive start-up costs that are among the biggest obstacles for new farms. The incubator program provides affordable access to land, infrastructure, and educational resources, including one-on-one guidance, language interpretation when needed, training in best-practice production techniques, and the development of marketing and business skills.
OUR INVESTMENT STRUCTURE
We bring together social, financial, and environmental capital to develop a community-focused approach to owning and leasing farm assets. FLAC (the Center) is comprised of a coalition of financial investors, including impact investors, foundations, farmers, and other stakeholders. The Center purchases farmland, infrastructure, and farmer housing, and leases those properties to experienced farmers on a long-term basis. The Center partners with non-profit organizations, such as local land trusts, to place conservation easements on the properties and ensure they remain in agriculture permanently.
THE PROJECT TEAM
- Bob Bernstein—Founder and Managing Director of Northeast Farm Access, LLC, experienced facilitator and convener dedicated to community-based development and conserving working farms.
- Rocio Lalanda—Director of Development, with a doctorate in Geography and Environmental Science and Policy, Rocio is passionate about keeping farmland in production.
- Jacob Meyer—Legal Counsel for Northeast Farm Access, LLC.
- Walter Cudnohufsky, Inc—Land planners decades of experience in creative farm design.
- Jon Jaffe—Vice President of Farm Credit East, farm financial advisor.
(Photo credit: Robert Rodriguez Jr. for image of marigold in field.)