About

Cultivating Community is at the Heart of Farm Commons

  • Community:

    We are all stronger when we work together. When farmers and attorneys share knowledge, the entire local food system moves forward. Farm Commons fosters the discussions and connections that build a strong legal backbone for our community.

  • Resources:

    Farmers should be empowered to take action on the legal situations that affect their operations. Our educational resources help farmers identify issues, break them down into manageable steps, and give farmers the confidence to move forward

  • Services:

    Ultimately, farmers need access to affordable, specialized attorneys. Farm Commons leads the edge of sustainable farm law through client representation (currently in Wisconsin), and develops the capacity of attorneys around the country to do the same. 

The Law in Action: Introduction02:17

Meet Farm Commons and the farmers that are part of our “The Law in Action” video series.

  • The Law in Action: Introduction

    02:17
  • The Importance of Written Leases

    02:22
  • Opportunities with Land Trusts

    02:20
  • Insurance, Liability, and Risk Management

    02:04
  • Creating Stable Business Partnerships

    02:26
  • Contracts for Strong Sales Relationships

    02:36
  • Successful Succession

    02:40

Rachel Armstrong

Founder and Executive Director

"The vision of a strong, cohesive community with sustainable farmers at its core is what motivates me every day."

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Laura Fisher

Education and Outreach Manager

"I love getting to connect with farmers and advocates around the country who are all working towards a common goal of improving our local food system."

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For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by food. As I got older, I became increasingly interested in not only the end product, but also the "behind the scenes" of our food system. While pursuing a Master's degree in Environmental Education I became passionate about the intersection of human and environmental health, which led me to concentrate my studies on sustainable food systems. After I completed my degree, I realized that my education was missing a key component – knowing what it really takes to grow the food that I was advocating for. In a quest for a practical education, I worked on farms, community gardens, and urban agriculture projects around New York City. Ultimately, I resolved to devote my career to supporting the kind of farmers that I had the privilege to work alongside and helping them thrive as business owners and the backbone of our food system.

I joined the Farm Commons team in December of 2014 armed with experience in developing educational resources, marketing and nonprofit program planning. I love getting to connect with farmers and advocates around the country that are all working towards a common goal of improving our local food system and making our communities healthier and more sustainable.

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Erin Hannum

Research Attorney

"It is a joy to help small farmers navigate the law so they can more successfully build their dream farm venture."

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Some of my fondest childhood memories were spending time on my grandparent’s small farm and in my family’s backyard vegetable garden. These memories paved my career path as an advocate for healthy local food systems, public health, and environmental stewardship. After receiving my undergraduate degree, I worked for several years as a grassroots environmental organizer on numerous campaigns related to public health and environmental issues. I loved the law and policy aspects of this work and decided to become a lawyer. I’ve been practicing law for over twelve years now in an array of contexts. Throughout my legal career, I’ve stayed connected to the root of my underlying passion by getting my hands in the soil – including working as a farmhand and maintaining a backyard garden in the various places I’ve lived. Currently, my husband and I live in Spokane, Washington where I serve on the Spokane Food Policy Council and volunteer on a local small farm.

I joined Farm Commons in September 2015. I love that this work merges my love for farming, aspiration for a healthier food system, and legal expertise. It is joy to help small farmers navigate the tedious nature of the law so they can more successfully build their dream farm venture. I am grateful to be working with a talented team and passionate farmers throughout the country that are committed to creating a healthier and more sustainable future.

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My passion for farming goes way back to the days when I proudly proclaimed that I wanted to be a farmer when I grew up. I’ve lived out that dream in many ways, from working on farms to managing a community garden, starting a catering company that featured local foods and running a nonprofit local foods consulting program. Although I never thought I’d become an attorney, when I realized how keenly we needed quality legal information, I felt compelled. Now, I love resolving the business legal issues that hinder farmers from achieving their goals.

I care deeply about farms, their profitability, and their role in our community. Running a strong farm business is easier with the help of a knowledgeable attorney who truly understands the farm business and can help farmers meet their financial and social goals. With strong farms, we can have a strong local food system and strong communities. The vision of a strong, cohesive community with sustainable farmers at its core is what motivates me every day.

I lead Farm Commons together with my board of directors, which includes Edward Cox, a Drake Agricultural Law Center Fellow; Allison Condra, a Fellow at Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic; Tabitha Czeck, an avid local farm supporter and experienced nonprofit director; and Chad Chriestenson, a farmer with experience in a variety of production and marketing systems.

Our Partners

  • Echoing Green

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