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Live Power Community Farm Expands

LFCP_cabbageWe are thrilled to be EXPANDING Live Power Community Farm’s agricultural conservation easement, to include an additional 10 abutting acres.

Back in the mid-1990s, Live Power Community Farm founders Stephen and Gloria Decater, sparked Equity Trust’s very first farm protection project, which eventually led to Equity Trust’s Farms for Farmers program. Live Power is a very special farm in Covelo, California, run wholly on solar electric and horse power.   The farm grows vegetables, herbs, flowers, orchard fruits, hay and grain, and raises cows, pigs, sheep, and hens.  For years, Stephen and Gloria wanted to protect the land that they rented for their farm, hoping to protect not only the land but also its future affordability. When the land went on the market, they knew they needed to find a project partner to help them carry out the project. “In our search for a partner in purchasing and preserving our farm for future generations of farmers and organic/biodynamic stewardship, we encountered several organizations across the country,” Stephen and Gloria said, “but until we discovered Chuck Matthei and Equity Trust, Inc., there was no one who understood what we were trying to do or the importance of our efforts.”

A core group of CSA members at Live Power Community Farm worked with Stephen and Gloria and Equity Trust to launch a capital campaign, which raised the funds necessary to make the farm permanently affordable to farmers. The funds were used to purchase an agricultural conservation easement on the property, which is held by Equity Trust, and requires active agriculture on site, and future transfer only at the affordable farm value. From beginning to end, Stephen and Gloria’s vision shaped the project, and their energy, and deep ties with their CSA members made it possible to carry out.  The farm was protected in 1995, and Equity Trust has held the unique conservation easement since that time. “Without [Equity Trust’s] technical assistance, support, knowledge, belief, and courage to try new things, we would not,” said the Decaters, ”have been able to do what we did.”

The Decaters have always believed that if it became possible to do so, it would be important to expand the acreage of their farm, beyond the original 40 acres.  Additional acreage, including grazing land and land for growing hay for their animals, would enable them to produce all of their feed, fertilizer, and energy from their own land base.   In anticipation of this, funds were raised by the Live Power Community Farm CSA members, and held by Equity Trust.

In 2013, Stephen and Gloria negotiated the opportunity to acquire an additional 10 acres of land adjacent to their original 40 acres. Equity Trust provided a short-term loan with which the Decaters made the purchase, taking the land off of the market while we worked with them on an expanded agricultural conservation easement.  Because the Decaters were pioneers in the preservation of farm affordability and working farms, much more work in this area has been done during the past 20 years.  Equity Trust and the Decaters decided that the expansion of the easement afforded us a good opportunity to revisit the easement’s language, and strengthen it where possible, based on knowledge we have gained in the intervening time.  In the revision process, we considered the language of Equity Trust’s 2009 model agricultural easement, and the language that is under development by lawyers in California for the Good Humus Produce agricultural conservation easement.  The revised language will reflect current best practices, and protect the affordability and use of all 50 acres of Live Power Community Farm for future generations.