Farmland LP investing $2.2M in Willamette Valley fields

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Farmland LP is buying up farmland in Oregon and going organic with multi-use farms.

Farmland LP is buying up farmland in Oregon and going organic with multi-use farms.

Farmland LP, a private equity firm intent on buying up land to convert it to organic, has purchased 254 acres of farmland in two plots in the Willamette Valley and is in buying discussions on additional land in Oregon.

San Francisco and Corvallis-based Farmland is garnering attention for its novel approach. The firm raises money from wealthy individuals who want to invest in an earth-friendly endeavor. Of the $2.2 million raised so far, all of it is earmarked for Oregon land purchases, with $1.2 million invested so far.

Farmland Managing Director Craig Wichner and his partner Jason Bradford purchase land and implement sustainable farming practices on the land — such as livestock pasturing and crop rotation — and then start generating revenue by leasing the land to farmers.

Fundraising for Farmland LP is ongoing and the full size of the fund will top out at $100 million, Wichner said.

The basic premise of the fund is that sustainable farming practices will yield higher quality products and ultimately fetch higher prices. In Oregon, where demand for high-quality, locally produced food is high, the market factors are in place for Farmland to operate.

"We're not looking for farmland in the middle of the country," Wichner said. "Oregon is just wonderful from a number of factors."

By providing high-quality farmland to lease, Wichner said Farmland also fills a niche for young farmers looking into get into the business and solves a fundamental mis-match in the agriculture industry.

"We act as the land managers," Wichner said. "Farmers make the most money by specializing. They focus on developing an expertise. But the worst thing for the land is to grow the same crop on the same land year after year."

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christinawilliams@bizjournals.com | 503.219.3438 | @SustainableBzOR

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