The process of creating the legal documents that are the legal structure of the Agrarian Commons was a collaborative one, captured in comments by the lawyers, farmers, and other practitioners who participated. Following are the relevant documents, along with some of the conversation/comments that accompanied their drafting.
Most of the Commons are formed as nonprofit 501(c)(2) community land trusts, but in certain contexts with multiple organizations founding a Commons, a nonprofit 501(c)(25) is required.
A key value of all Agrarian Commons is ecologically regenerative stewardship of the land by the farmers leasing the land.
Another key value of all Agrarian Commons is that the farmers stewarding the land have long term tenure at a reasonable cost and with equitable lease terms.
A unique component of each Agrarian Commons is that Agrarian Trust, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, is the “parent” corporation of all the Agrarian Commons.
Finally, state law governs how long a farm lease term can be. Some states have no set limits while others only allow a lease to be a maximum of 10 years long.
State law also governs whether there are specific requirements regarding members of nonprofit corporations, including community land trusts.
The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems is an initiative of Vermont Law School, and this toolkit provides general legal information for educational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute, and should not be relied upon, for legal advice. Each farmer’s circumstances are unique, state laws vary, and the information contained herein is specific to the time of publication. Accordingly, for legal advice, please consult an attorney licensed in your state.