We really did. We bought a farm. It’s a beautiful 143 acres just 10 miles north of Iowa City and a couple of miles east of Dick Schwab’s round barns on Rt. 1. You can see it here: Morse Farm aerial
Why would anyone in their right minds buy farmland at its peak? First of all, it wasn’t. While we read about land going for $12,000 an acre, we got this at auction for less than $6,500 per acre. It’s still a chunk of change, and we’re in hock up to our eyeballs, but it was a steal. And no one’s hurting – local quarry company River Products decided to sell a piece of their extensive holdings off.
So of course we gotta wonder what’s WRONG with it!? Johnson County recently passed an ordinance that dissuades McMansions and we think the 40-acre rule may have alienated a few developers. Some of the land is a pretty steep slope, a watershed for Rapid Creek, which runs right through the property. And the only flat ground you can get any big equipment into is on flood plain.
We’re not idiots, (most days), and we knew all of that going in. But we wanted to help a beginning sustainable farmer get going. Fellow PFIer Grant Schultz found this little prize and said it would work for him. He won’t need those John Deere Monster Combines with GPS and a/c, and he’ll be using Mark Shepherd’s principles of restoration agriculture, what we affectionately refer to as “permaculture on steroids.” That kind of farming will suit this land perfectly.
We plan to put this working farm into a conservation easement before we sell it to Grant for the same price we paid for it, whenever he’s able. We just have to find an organization that sees the value of preserving sustainable farming and using it as an educational opportunity for the community around it. Meanwhile, we see possibilities for Grant to partner with local nonprofits and government agencies interested in a new (but very old) and healthier way of farming.
We’ll keep you posted on his plans as he goes forward.