Sustainable Iowa Land Trust is selling a permanently protected farm in Southwest Iowa in a move to pay off debt and honor the farm’s previous owners.
When the nonprofit known as SILT bought the 53-acre SILT Loess Hills Farm near Council Bluffs three years ago, the property came with $200,000 of debt. The Trust’s Executive Director Suzan Erem says SILT was unable to pay it back.
“If we couldn’t raise the money, we would sell the farm, and it’s all working out very, very well that way,” Erem said.
Erem says the nonprofit is honoring an understanding they had with the previous owners when they purchased the farm by ensuring whoever buys it will commit to sustainable food production practices on the property.
SILT has received proposals and bids for the farm. It plans to announce the new owners July 31.
Erem says the nonprofit will still be involved after the sale and will visit the farm annually to make sure it's being used in a sustainable way.
"Land trust is something of a partner. We want our farmers to succeed," Erem said. "...But we also need to make sure that we honor the easement."
In June 2015, the nonprofit bought its first farm – the SILT Loess Hills Farm. Permanently protecting the farm ensures it will maintain sustainable production practices “in perpetuity for generations to come,” Erem said.
SILT has five permanently protected farms spread throughout Iowa.