Over 1,900 acres of the crown jewel of the Garst family farm ready for auction in August
Interest is growing in a historic family farm described as a “Jewel in the Crown” by the Peoples Company and the Community Insurance Agency. The eight plots in Coon Rapids, Iowa, which will go up for auction on August 17, have gone a long way in their favor.
The land is sold by the agriculturally innovative Garst family who hosted Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev during the Cold War in 1959.
Long-term soil conservation practices have been implemented over the decades on the plots of land auctioned. They include no-till practices in place since the 1980s, the introduction of cover crops in 2013, terraces, buffer strips, terraces, streams, contour strips and headlands.
These investments have resulted in increased crop yields, rich soil that reduces compaction problems, and abundant water retention that is superior to other farms in the region.
“These farms are doing better than county averages in terms of yield,” says Liz Garst, Roswell Garst’s granddaughter and director of the family business. “I think these farms are hardened for the future and productive because of the health of the soils. But our tenant, George Johnston, has also contributed to increasing our yields through his good farming practices.
Longtime farmer Johnston says the farms are as good as they get in the area.
“The farmland market is on fire right now,” said Steve Bruere, president of Peoples Company. “Farmers have been aggressive buyers and outside capital has not always been able to compete locally, but this land is more unique due to the easement.
Bruere says several out-of-state inquiries have been made and that he anticipates a mix of market participants.
The easement requires that certain sustainable agricultural practices be used on farms and that conservation measures and structures currently used on farms be maintained. Practices include no-till farming, annual planting of post-harvest cover crops with the basis of having continuous living roots in the soil, and maintenance of existing terraces and streams.
“We’ve had a lot of conservation easements over the years that have just taken land out of production,” Bruere said. “What is unique about this easement is that it is a continuation of the way the Garst family has managed these farms for years, that is, with the waterways, the no-till, cover crops and terraces. They want to preserve those farming practices that continue to build on the foundation of healthy soil they have created.
Apart from the financial and health benefits of the soils that strengthen the farm, easement is attractive as interest and demand increases from consumers, sustainability groups and businesses in the food supply chain for them. environmental, social and governance (ESG) measures.
“At the end of the day, these farms are configured to meet a lot of ESG requirements,” says Bruere. “Some people may see this as a ready-made ESG opportunity. A lot of capital is tied to sustainability, carbon, and other goals, which can attract a new style of buyer. ”
Additionally, according to Bruere, one of the key features that makes this sale unique is the availability of data. Garst Farms have a long history of recorded performance that validates management practices.
“The Garsts have been strong advocates for conservation and sustainability,” says Bruere. “They really support the idea of the conservation easement. It is a pioneering process. ”
While some may view the easement as an additional layer of complexity and speculate whether the land will sell for a discount, Bruere says this is really an opportunity for a buyer and the requirements of the easement are no different from the way whose land would be cultivated without it.
For the Garst family, this sale is an act of agricultural innovation to show farmers the real value of soil conservation practices.
“By acquiring this land, which has largely been in our family for over 65 years, a new owner will have the best-maintained land in Iowa, along with a conservation easement flexible enough to make continuous improvements while ensuring the soil continues to produce dividends through good water management, weed control, reduced compaction and growing yields, ”says Garst.
The sale is co-negotiated by Clive, Iowa-based Peoples Company and Coon Rapids, Iowa-based Community Insurance Agency.
Interested parties must submit a sealed bid by the close of business on Friday August 6, 2021, with a live auction for invited bidders taking place on Tuesday August 17, 2021 at the Raccoon River Social Club, 513 Main Street, Coon Rapids , IA, at 10 a.m. The sale is scheduled to close on Friday, September 17, 2021.