‘‘We were looking for someone who was committed, who had a great work ethic, who was passionate about what he did,’’ Steele said. ‘‘Someone with integrity that we could build a long-term relationship with.’’ They negotiated a lease where Mecca pays no monthly fee until the farm reaches a specific level of annual sales; when lease payments begin, the Steeles will reserve half of each payment for improvements on the farm.
For some landowners, the incentive is more spiritual than financial.
‘‘We felt almost a moral obligation to use the land the way it was intended,’’ Steele said. ‘‘It was originally a farm in the late 1800s; we wanted to resurrect it and have it be operational again.’’
Now in its third year, Mecca’s Great Song Farm is a community-supported agriculture operation that feeds about 95 families.
‘‘We couldn’t be happier,’’ Steele said.
Climbing Tree Farm: http://climbingtreefarm.blogspot.com
International Farm Transition Network: http://www.farmtransition.org
American Farmland Trust: http://www.farmland.org