Sarah Vaile, Research Attorney
140 Lincoln St., Ashland, OR 97520
Farm Commons is a non-profit organization founded in 2012 for the purpose of providing accessible and affordable legal information to sustainable farmers. As a farmer worker herself, founder and executive director, Rachel Armstrong, understood firsthand the lack of legal information she and farmers in her community had, and how vulnerable this left them. She observed that small to mid-sized farmers around her were unknowingly putting themselves at risk for legal liability, and they also missed opportunities in the marketplace because they didn’t understand the law.
Farm Commons fills this gap by providing FREE information to farmers on all areas of the law relevant to the small farm business, including land leasing, purchasing and financing, food safety, business structures, agritourism operations, value-added products, and insurance. Information is available on our website, www.farmcommons.org, by signing up for an account and then downloading any of the 125+ resources, from 3-pg. tip sheets to 325pg. guides. We offer helpful checklists, model documents, and loads of examples and stories, in print form, podcasts and webinars, to really bring farm law to life.
Farm Commons also delivers workshops on farm law to farmers and farm service providers nationwide, using the organization’s proven method of training farmers themselves to co-present the workshop to peers. The organization’s approach is incredibly successful: 70% of farmers make a risk-reducing change to their business within three months. After using Farm Commons’ resources, farmers feel more empowered and recognize their own abilities to manage legal risk. Whether leasing land, forming a partnership, arranging a sales contract, or hiring an employee for the first time, Farm Commons is there to help farmers make the law work for them.
Farm Commons is based in Duluth, Minnesota, but has staff across the country, including Sarah Vaile, who joined Farms Commons as an attorney in 2018 and lives in Ashland, Oregon. Farm Commons is thrilled to be a part of the OCFSN coalition, and looks forward to working strategically to bring much-needed farm law education to sustainable farmers across Oregon.