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Supervisors readjust utilization of local farm

BY CHRISTIAN HAHN | AUGUST 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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In light of a recent lease termination, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors hopes to continue working with the same farmer and manager of a county farm property.

However, the supervisors will also look to do different things with sections of the land.

“The board has a desire to take out a little bit of land currently utilized by the county farmer for growing corn to incorporate the potential of bringing in outside organizations for local food production,” Supervisor Terrence Neuzil said.

The supervisors made it clear these decisions should not reflect poorly on the farmer or its manager.
Johnson County Farm operator Jim Sladek said it is normal for farm leases to be renegotiated annually.

This year, the price of corn has gone down dramatically, he said, which goes into consideration when adjusting the terms and conditions of farm leases.

Typically, landowners will negotiate higher rent adjusted for the higher price of corn, Sladek said.

“This farmer has paid the county more than any other in the past and done more work on cleaning it up,” Supervisor Janelle Rettig said. “He has been so flexible with us. It’s been a great partnership, and this doesn’t reflect on the farmer at all.”

In addition to potential community gardens, the supervisors also wish to carve out a section of the land to make way for a trail leading to Hunter’s Run Park that would ultimately be part of the Willow Creek Trail System.

The supervisors are identifying where the trail would go as well as who will take advantage of the opportunity to grow local fruits and vegetables for the county.

As part of the planning, the supervisors have put out a request for propositions from individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations for use of a portion of the land.

“I have a desire for the food grown there to go back to the local food pantries,” Neuzil said.

The request will be out for 30 days before the supervisors decide on which, if any, will be chosen.

“The board is looking to hear what people are interested in,” Supervisor Rod Sullivan said. “We’re willing to negotiate certain terms and conditions, and we just want to hear ideas. So people who have them should certainly submit, and if you don’t think it’s what we want, then we’ll talk about that.”


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