Burnt Rock Farm: Resources to Help the New Agrarian Succeed

| 7/12/2013 4:15:00 PM

When Justin Rich called Yankee Farm Credit to see about a loan for the $40,000 in improvements to one of his barns, he faced a complicated system not set up for small farmers.

“They said they didn’t have a way to process such a small loan,” said Justin. “They’re set up for commodity loans. Real estate is more secure than that. The interest rates don’t match up.”

The difficulties with traditional farm credit didn’t dissuade Justin and his wife, Lindsay Lyman-Potato Farming On Burnt RockClarke, who own Burnt Rock Farm in Huntington, VT.  It did lead them towards a non-agricultural based financing option for their 900 square foot barn improvement: a home equity loan.

The duo purchased the riverside property in 2008 in a foreclosure auction. The house, 150 year-old barn, two-car garage and about 12 tillable acres went to the highest bidder at $215,601. Again, the couple used a traditional route. “The market was seizing up. No one could get access to capital. The only people buying were first time home-owners with a down payment,” shared Justin.

When the property dropped gradually from an asking price of $350,000, the couple put in an offer of $220,000. The bank rejected it and sold it at auction the next morning, where they made the deal. For less than their original offer. They made the down payment, moved in and started farming.

“It was a lot of self-financing, working other jobs, on other farms,” says Justin. Lindsay still works a job in town, and Justin worked at several local farms during the first years at Burnt Rock.

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