Equity Trust Technical Assistance
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. Through our technical assistance, we seek:
- To encourage exploration of alternative approaches to the ownership of land;
- To help to preserve the affordability of farms for farmers;
- To help increase community access to locally produced food.
Scope and Priorities
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:
- Design of 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.
Forms of Technical Assistance Delivery
Forms of assistance can range from brief consultations and responses to specific questions (by phone or email) to the review, revision and/or drafting of a variety of specialized documents, to more extensive customized programs of assistance involving one or more site visits over an extended period of time.
Fees for Service and Reduction or Waiver of Fees
If your group wishes to receive technical assistance for a particular project, we can provide an estimate of the number of hours required, a proposed process and timeline, and the anticipated cost of the services.
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, depending on:
- The ability of the client to pay
- The availability of other funding to support the work
- The extent to which the work benefits those most in need
- The extent to which the work can result in socially constructive precedents
- The extent to which the work will expand Equity Trust’s experience and ability to assist other groups.
In general, Equity Trust does not charge for initial consultations or for responding to spot questions by phone or email. We do request reimbursement for travel costs and other direct expenses.
Equity Trust actively seeks grants and donations to cover the cost of assisting community-based groups that cannot otherwise afford technical assistance. In addition, when a group is undertaking a capital campaign, we are often willing to allow a portion of the cost of our services to be written into the campaign budget.