“My husband and I were living in South Africa. I’m originally from Boston, but had been overseas for 15 years. My husband is South African, and our two boys are dual citizens. We searched high and low, and came to Maine – our chosen state – and viewed about 15 farms. One seemed promising, but we didn’t really connect with anything. When we got back to South Africa, we found lease to own options on Maine FarmLink. This suited us much better than a farm that had been empty for years. We could work alongside more experienced farmers and prove our worth to the banks by a successful season. We reached out to three farmers, and finally found a perfect fit. Charlotte Young and Jim Baranski had farmed this land in Franklin for 21 years, and didn’t want to just hand it over to a stranger. They had worked hard to build this organic farm into a treasure. We contacted them, and set up a phone call. We didn’t have the ability to do another trip to Maine, so we got very busy on the emails and phone calls. We first spoke in October or so. The contacts became daily, and before long, they were like family. Our slogan was “onward together!” – and still is.
We gave a deposit and signed a legal intent to purchase, and showed up on a cold March day. Essentially, we bought a farm off the internet sight unseen. It was a bit scary. Now it’s September. The heat of the season has passed, and we are thrilled. We doubled the CSA, grew some great vegetables and chickens, and Charlotte and Jim have been here to mentor us and make sure the farm succeeds. When we had our MOFGA inspection, they decided that we didn’t need to submit a whole new application because this was a transfer instead of a normal sale – a continuation instead of a new farm. Charlotte and Jim can retire knowing that the farm lives on, and plan to be back frequently. Indeed, in our legal arrangement, even after we buy the farm, they’ll come back to help – and get a stake in the winery.
It’s essentially like they’ve transferred the farm to their kids – only, kids they only met later in life. They’ve become family. The farm will continue to be the farm they’ve devoted their lives to, and becomes a place where our kids can grow up and take their kids to eventually.”