MAC was established in 2017 to purchase Maple Homestead Farm farm the first of several planned acquisitions
The Center’s vision is to create a community with independent farm operations that collaborate when and as it is appropriate for them to do so. We want to bring together social, financial, and environmental or “natural” capital, using community-based approaches that create farmland and farmhouse security, equity, and legacy.
Following NEFA’s model of “forever farms” will help us to break the cycle of farm loss during inter-generational and other transitions to develop a community-focused approach to owning and leasing farm assets. On the lower fields, we plan limited development with several small green-design houses around a restorative agricultural landscape. Bridging the two farm areas is diversified farming, a center for our agroecology work, Tisané’s herb and food farming, plus artist residencies in four-season farm cabins, the Carriage Barn and Farmhouse. We can research and learn from our agroecology work and share that research with the broader organic community.
Maple Homestead Farm
Maple Homestead Farm is a piece of history nestled between Mount Monadnock and Spectacle Pond in the Town of Marlborough, New Hampshire. For many years, as Richardson Farm, the land produced potatoes stored in a root cellar below the carriage barn. Starting in 1972, Hank Kenney owned the farm. For nearly 20 years, it was a 70 cow dairy farm. Soon he turned his focus to maple syrup, and hay, which they sold to farm outlet stores and stables. Hank also kept Dutch Belted Galloway cattle for clearing pastures and sale.
The farmhouse was built in 1770. Marlborough’s first schoolhouse relocated on the farm in the early 1900s and was converted into two-bedroom carriage house, now an apartment, future artist studios and combined sculpture and tractor repair shop We can use the two large barns for horses, cattle, and hay storage. The former cow barn, built in 1938, measures almost 9,000 square feet. The sugar house, built in the 1800s, functions as a fully equipped maple facility.
The Monadnock Agricultural Center is building on the good works that Hank Kenney–designated in 1998 the highest honor of a New Hampshire Farm of Distinction–began. The farm has 135 acres of fields, woodlands, views, and 1,200 feet on Spectacle Pond. With some of the finest agricultural soils in the area, this property has the potential for a variety of uses. A conservation easement for agricultural use is already in place for a portion of the farm, and NEFA is working with the Monadnock Conservancy to expand the easement on most of the remaining 82 acres.
The Monadnock Center Vision
We envision the Monadnock center as exceptionally diverse:
NEFA is working with social innovator and entrepreneur Dr. Claudia Ford and her partners for the newly formed Tisané initiative to lease the main Maple Homestead farmhouse, upper fields and woods and barns. On the lower fields, we plan limited development—several small green-design houses around a restorative agricultural landscape. Bridging the two farm areas: diversified farming, a center for our agroecology work where we can leverage learning from all our properties and share that research with the wider organic community, and Tisané’s herb and food farming, plus artist farm stays.
Ongoing revenue will continue to be derived from the current hay, maple sugaring and livestock operations, while the core farm begins the transition to organic and biodynamic practices.
Farther ahead: Tisané’s 2018 plans include producing, blending, packing and shipping herbs commonly used for medicines and teas, and establishing a tea room. They will also grow vegetables, poultry, small fruits and develop beekeeping.
The NEFA Model
In brief: NEFA saves working farms by setting up Limited Liability Companies of investors interested in preserving our local agricultural systems and bringing together farmers who, with long-term renewable leases to rely on, can keep farmland producing fresh, local food. The fair and equitable returns on investment to each, and to the larger community, include:
- Perpetually conserved and actively farmed organic and biodynamic land
- Farm restoration and preservation at sustainable “mid-scale” levels
- Farm infrastructure and farmer homes
- Abundant, fresh, local food and herbs
- Secure 30-year, renewable “ground leases” for our farmer-lessees
- Financial capital preservation with 2%-4% appreciation
- On-farm experiences, such as farm stays, workshops and more
At present, the Monadnock Agricultural Center has one lead equity investment of $150,000 and bridge loans of $550,000 committed. NEFA is starting to raise another $500,000 in equity investments to complete the purchase, and about $250,000 to make initial renovations and buy much of Hank’s equipment.
Due to both Securities and Exchange Commission regulations and our organizational values, we have a very specific process for finding new investors. Without a dealer-broker license, we cannot advertise for investors. Instead we work with people with whom we have a “prior relationship,” or create one prior to discussing the investment opportunity. We do so through word of mouth, personal meetings, farm visits, or other direct discussions. This allows both NEFA and interested parties to determine if their values and interests align.
Once a “prior relationship” has been established and the party states that they would like to know about how an investment might work, pertinent conversations can begin. After years of working to acquire this locally important farm, we are now seeking meetings with people interested in learning more about NEFA’s methods.