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Amy Manzelli Cultivates Prosperity with Intergenerational Farm Leases

Kelsey Davis June 18, 2024

In a modernized world, it has become more difficult for farmers to conduct daily operations of owning a business. One of the biggest challenges the next generation of farmers faces is access to land.

According to the 2022 Agricultural Census, the average American farmer as of 2022 was 58.1 years of age. With an ever-aging population, the question becomes, how do farmers successfully hand down their farm to the next generation? While for some, it may be as easy as handing the farm down to the next of kin, for others it may not be so simple. Some adult children may not have an interest in taking over the family business and others may not have children to pass the farm down to.

One innovative solution for handing down the land to the up-and-coming generation is to create a Farm Lease with a reputable attorney.

What is a Farm Lease? A Farm Lease is a contract that transfers the right to use farmland for a specific purpose and time frame. It is important the lease be in writing and agreed upon and signed by both parties.

Farmers who are looking for security and assurance with their Farm Leases, look no further. At BCM Environmental and Land Law, Owner-Attorney Amy Manzelli works tirelessly to make sure farmers have the resources they need for their businesses. Amy personally relates to her client’s passion for organic vegetable farming by growing crops in her small backyard garden with her very own flock of hens in Pembroke, NH. As a long-time advocate for farmers, BCM is an annual sponsor for the non-profit Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire (NOFA-NH).

When clients of Amy’s, owners of The Little Red Flower Truck, Molly Friedland and Caleb Hawkins, saw a listing for a Farm Lease on a vegetable farm in August of 2023, they thought it would be “silly” not to apply. The pair had been operating a flower business and this gave them the opportunity to expand at Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine.

Amy, who has been practicing law since 2005, was there every step of the way in assisting them in their venture. Together, they were able to write up an agreement that consisted of a lease of 8 acres of farmland on the 40-acre property. The lease is 11-years with a one-year trial period, then two consecutive five-year terms. Included in the terms are the buildings, greenhouses, residences, and other farm infrastructure.

This Farm Lease gave Friedland and Hawkins new opportunities for growth. “To be able to commit fully to buying and running a new farm was financially inaccessible to us,” Friedland said. “If we were to start with a blank slate, how many years would it take us of investing time and resources to support a lifestyle farm business? The opportunity to lease at Four Season Farm is not only one of participating in this incredible legacy, but it’s also a turnkey operation,” said Friedland.

Farm Leases provide both the lessee (farmer) and the lessor (landowner) the opportunity to achieve personal goals. For the lessee, the chance to start new beginnings, for the lessor, the chance to settle into retirement. Both of which they might not have accomplished without the help of a Farm Lease.


2022 USDA Agricultural Census Report Summary


MOFGA Article