For the benefit of current and future generations, Corner Farm Village is working to permanently protect this agricultural and riparian land in the Orchard Homes area of Missoula. The eight-acres includes high-quality, prime agricultural soil (Grantsdale loam), along with an old oxbow of the Clark Fork River and its riparian habitat. Part of the land is in the 100-year floodplain, so the project serves as a natural form of flood control, too.

This unique project supports the open space and growth policies of the City and County of Missoula. A primary purpose of Missoula’s Open Space Bond, passed overwhelmingly by voters in 2018, is “conserving agricultural lands.” In its 2016 Growth Policy, the City identified the Corner Farm Village area as valuable agricultural land, recognizing its importance in meeting the community’s current and future food needs. Similarly, a guiding principle in Missoula County’s 2016 growth policy declares: “A healthy agriculture sector is essential to the well-being of our community due to benefits such as food security, open space, wildlife habitat, economic activity, health promotion, and quality of life” (p. 10). The County also has goals to: “conserve agricultural lands and timberlands” and to “support local agriculture and… encourage value added operations” (goals 7.1 and 7.2).

Corner Farm Village will transfer ownership of the farm property to Trust Montana, a community land trust (CLT), which will hold the property for the benefit of the community in perpetuity. In turn, Trust Montana will provide qualified farmer(s) with a long-term, affordable ground lease.

Corner Farm Village Trust Land FarmstandTrust Montana’s mission includes securing affordable access to and protection of agricultural land. To acquire the land, Trust Montana will seek funds from the Open Space Bond, philanthropists, and community members, as well a donation from the current landowner. In turn, Trust Montana will provide qualified farmer(s) with a long-term, affordable ground lease. Trust Land Farm LLC will be the first long-term lease holder. 

Although CLTs have been used elsewhere for farms, this will be the first time it is used in Montana to protect agricultural land. The affordable, long-term ground lease will specify farm stewardship responsibilities and include provisions for:

  • Affordability to the farmer.
  • Careful stewardship of the land (without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, and with soil health practices and careful water management).
  • Commercial income from the property (so it will not be an estate or hobby farm).
  • Production of food for our community, rather than distant markets.

Farmers will build equity through improvements they make, like a barn. Trust Montana will routinely monitor for compliance.

Trust Land Farm is currently operating a self-serve farm stand during the farming season. Eventually, the plan is to have a farm store and café on the adjacent development lot. The agricultural business building will enhance economic opportunity and viability for the farm by offering locally grown, heathy food to the neighborhood and community at large.