Cohousing/ Farm Interface
From: Richard Pendleton (
Date: Mon, 11 Jul 2011 05:42:23 -0700 (PDT)

At Nubanusit Neighborhood & Farm in New Hampshire, our farmland is on a
designated condominium unit (the "Farm Unit")  that is currently owned by
the LLC that developed the community but the intent is for the community to
own it eventually and that is how it operates in practice.  The community
interests in the farm are represented by the Farm Team (a group of neighbors
with a mandate from the Plenary; I am not a member of that team but was
formerly) and they make sure the land is maintained and improved based on
future envisioned uses.  The Farm Team negotiates agreements with groups
that want to use the farm land.  Uses include horses, pig raising, laying
chickens, bees, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), orchard (and probably
others I am forgetting right now) each with its own lease agreement with the
community.  Currently nothing is for profit. We don't have any outside
residents (other than CSA members) but it is allowed.  

The original vision was for a separate farm non profit to oversee the Farm
Unit. An important objective of this scenario was the operation of the farm
non profit to be independent from the community so that farmers would not be
micromanaged and the farm could operate financially independent from the
community budget.  However, in the early stages we could not come to
agreement, in the short time necessary, to a structure that balanced the
farm's independence with the community control.  Specifically, the community
wanted more representation on the board and the people that formed the non
profit were concerned that the farmers' independence would be compromised. 

Given there are few of us in the community that have much lifelong farming
experience, I think it has been going quite well.  There have been
discussions about how much the community should support the farm in its
annual budget since that wasn't the original plan.  In my personal opinion,
the global issues concerning the economics of food production have much more
impact on our success then the issues of power and control on the farm at
the moment.

I don't think we have a farm-specific conflict of interest policy and I
think that it could be said that everyone in the community has a conflict of
interest when it comes to decisions (and does conflict of interest apply in
consensus decisions?).

I can send you our farm mandate if you would like it.  I will be at the
Cohousing conference in Conway, NH this weekend also if anyone wants to talk
about it there.

Richard Pendleton

Nubanusit Neighborhood & Farm 


Message: 2

Date: Sun, 10 Jul 2011 18:29:37 -0400

From: Joel Plotkin <joel [at]>

Subject: [C-L]_ Cohousing/ Farm Interface

To: cohousing-l [at]


<CA+hbnxc4JpATJpvBBqad4tFJSAwFsZuSjDJUfw_rbdCZxqj49Q [at]>

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I'm curious about organizational dynamics of Cohousing communities that have
farms as part of the common land. At Hundredfold Farm in PA, we have a
Christmas tree farm that is a profit-making business. At present, all
residents are required to be members of the Tree Farm LLC, a separate
corporation (easier for tax purposes). We hope to make membership optional,
in which case, the farm will be a business operated by a subset of the
community. They will lease property and own equipment used for the business.

How have other communties handled their farms? Some lease to residents, some
to outside farmers, some own and operate, sometimes the farmer is an
employee of the COHO, etc. What models have you found that work for your
community? What models were problematic? I'm also interested in a governance
issue--do those coho members who are also business partners have to stand
aside during COA decisions about the business? Our condo documents have a
conflict-of-interest clause that would seem to apply there.

Joel Plotkin

Hundredfold Farm Cohousing

Orrtanna PA



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