The 22-acre farm went under contract last month when the local groups agreed to purchase the farm for $495,000. The property includes two barns, a farmhouse and 2,300 feet of riparian land on the Mad River.
Since the property went under contract, the town of Warren has approved up to $125,000 from its conservation fund towards the purchase. Organizers are now working to figure out how to raise the rest of the funds and how to structure the ownership so that the project qualifies the optimal amounts of funding from land conservation organizations.
"We're wrestling with how to get a farmer in there and how to maintain community involvement as well as how to do that in the richest financial landscape that we can," said Ferris.
"We want to make sure that whatever structure we put together and whatever ownership deal we arrange, that we're still eligible for foundation money. We don't want to get to the point where we say, 'Okay, here's our path,' and then find out that we've made ourselves ineligible for foundation money," he explained.
BEGIN FUND RAISING
The group has until October 1 to finish structuring its financial and legal structure, and Ferris said he's aware that the time this is taking is frustrating for the many Valley groups that are ready and willing to begin fund raising to help make the purchase possible.
"We also have to look at the realities and the risk and what each organization or donor needs to meet their conditions. Who is going to step up, raise their hand and say, 'Okay, I'm responsible for this'? So, this is all part of the deal that we're structuring," he said.
The farm is currently priced at $495,000, down considerably from the initial asking price of $1.2 million. The price reduction is what piqued the interest of Ferris and other members of community organizations who feel the farm should be conserved as part of the working landscape of The Valley, and as a possible incubator space for agriculture, a community center, a gather place and other uses.
Members of the organizing committee include Yestermorrow, the Warren Conservation Commission, the Mad River Valley Housing Coalition, the Mad River Localvores, the Mad River Valley Planning District, representatives from the Intervale and the Vermont Land Trust.