Hesitation over the Swinging Bridge Farm

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After 12 days of agonizing back and forth negotiations with the Seller of the Swinging Bridge Farm, I learned last night that they are hesitant to make a commitment with me at this time.

swing bridge farm house

The Swinging Bridge Farm!

When I received the news last night I was at Johnny’s after hours with a few devout supporters who joined me in painting bee-themed magnets that will go out to folks who contribute to the Runamuk FarmRaiser. I’m so glad I was surrounded by friends!

The word was that the Seller is “hesitant to make a commitment today”. Apparently they have multiple offers for the house and the Seller has concerns regarding my financing. My realtor, Leah Watkins, has explained the FSA process several times at length─the fact that the FSA does not do a “pre-qualification”─but they are still requesting to see a Pre-Qualification from me, or information on any grants I’ve applied for.

And the Seller wants to wait and see what the house does on the market; presumably to see if they can get a better offer.

Obviously I can’t get a pre-qualification, and though I’ve looked into grants in the past, I learned quickly that the majority of grants are targeted toward non-profit organizations. Where I am trying to earn my living as a farmer, Runamuk does not qualify for grants.

Leah spoke with the Seller’s realtor, who says the deal is not dead, but the Seller is an aging woman who is being advised by family members not to act too quickly. Perhaps they will reconsider and decide my offer is the best one afterall.

I’m less concerned about myself as a farmer in search of land, than I am concerned for the fate of that piece of local history and the precious ecosystem that exists on that parcel. It would be terrible to see someone come in and devastate such a rich habitat. To me, selling farmland is comparable to re-homing a beloved pet: you want to make sure they get the best home possible.

On paper, Leah says, my offer is expired, so I am free to make an attempt for another property. Unfortunately there’s still nothing else in the area that meets my needs, so I will wait and bide my time. My original plan had been to go to the FSA in March of 2018 to apply, which still leaves 5 months to see what else might come onto the market, and to try again to convince a landowner to enter into a Sale Agreement that I can take with me when I go.

I can’t deny my disappointment.

I see great opportunity for Runamuk at the Swinging Bridge Farm, and I came up a lot on the price in an attempt to secure it. To finally find a Seller who has the financial capacity to even consider the long FSA financing process, only to have them turn down my offer─an offer I had poured everything I have and everything I am into─is disheartening.

Here I am with this plan for a magnificent pollinator conservation farm that will preserve some lucky piece of Maine’s beautiful landscape, some piece of local agricultural history, with the potential to bring tourists from all over the northeast to this economically deprived region of the state─and I can’t even get the Sale Agreement so that I can even begin the process for financing.

From an environmentalist’s standpoint, you’d think landowners who care about their property would be lining up outside my door to persuade me to become steward of their land. From a business perspective, you’d imagine town officials from surrounding areas would be vying for my attention, trying to attract this growing enterprise to their town in hopes of bringing more traffic and income to their community. And yet all I hear are crickets lol.

Yes, it’s disheartening. Yes, it’s frustrating. This is the road beginning farmers like me have to walk in order to succeed. I am not alone; and I will not give up. Thank you for following along!

2 thoughts on “Hesitation over the Swinging Bridge Farm

  1. Jeremy Hills

    Hello Sam, just wanted too pass this along to you….the old Goodrich farm that sits across from the trailor in Embden that I was renting is for sale and has been for a few years…Jim has been asking 70k and last I knew would probably negotiate lower….it has 12 acres and is pretty much turnkey….just wanted to share that with you….I’ve been caring for the place the last four years and it is a decent set up. Either way l wish the best for you guys and hope it all comes together for Runamuk!

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