Retiring Farmers Commit to Transitioning Land and Sharing Knowledge with a New Generation

farm field

For over 100 years, the Goodell family has been farming on 275 acres in Shortsville, New York. From dairy, to livestock, to crops, this land has consistently been in production. The current stewards of that land, Bill and Brycie Goodell, were facing a dilemma known intimately to many other farmers in New York: they hoped to retire but didn't have someone in line to take over the farm. 

Over the years, much of the farmland surrounding the Goodells' small farm was bought up by large dairies and real estate developers, a common occurrence in Western New York. The Goodells could easily follow that trend and sell to a large farm or real estate developer, which would provide the ticket to their retirement. However, it is important to Bill and Brycie that the land remains farmland and remains a small farm. 

In addition to their own desires to maintain the agricultural tradition of their land, Bill and Brycie understand the struggles that beginning farmers face in accessing land to farm and want to provide an opportunity to a young farmer. Through their reading on farmland access, Bill and Brycie found the Farmland for a New Generation New York (FNG-NY) and Finger Lakes LandLink websites and listed their farm on both sites. The Goodells also began to work with Genesee Land Trust, a FNG-NY Regional Navigator, to explore protecting their farm with an agricultural conservation easement. Protecting their farm would ensure that the land stays in farming and make the property more affordable for a young farmer. 

Bill and Brycie

After 18 months of searching, Bill Goodell met Mike Verstraete, a young farmer looking for land on the FNG-NY website, by chance when Mike came to the farm to purchase hay. They had not interacted directly through the site since the Goodells' farm was not exactly where Mike was originally looking. However, meeting in person was the catalyst for Bill and Mike to build a relationship and ultimately decide that Mike would purchase the farm. In addition to their work with Genesee Land Trust on the easement to make this transition affordable, the Goodells, Mike, and his fiancée Julia worked with New York FarmNet, another FNG-NY Regional Navigator, to promote healthy communication while navigating the financial aspects of this process. 

While fully ready to retire and completely transfer the farm to Mike, the Goodells also want to maintain a connection to their home. They plan to share their personal and generational knowledge of the land and the sustainable practices they use with Mike. This will be a big transition for all involved, but Bill and Brycie are confident that the benefits of the arrangement will outweigh the challenges!

Published in January 2022

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