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Benjamin Fahrer
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Oakland, California, United States
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Cornerstone Farms

Posted by Benjamin Fahrer almost 11 years ago

Cornerstone Farms is a farming project with a vision of restoring social and ecological health through regenerative agriculture.

Cornerstone Farms is a farming project with a vision of restoring social and ecological health through regenerative agriculture. We are needing additional capital to secure the farm. Below is an overview from our prospectus and look forward to this project becoming a reality.

Cornerstone Farms will provide a foundational place from which we can do this crucial work. The cornerstone is the is foundation in which structure is built. often the stone that a builder refuses at first, IS the stone that is the cornerstone. In todays world we refuse and resist the reality we are in ecologically with climate change and socially with the patriarchial economic drivers that are depleting our natural resources at a alarming rate. Thus we are taking these stones and building upon them in a culturally creative and artistic way.

Cornerstone Farms 4 main goals are:

  • Re-habitation of indigenous Ohlone people and presence on peninsula land
  • Building a bioregional hub for organic seed production, processing and distribution
  • Creating a training facility for aspiring organic farmers
  • Making a place for artistic and inter-cultural dialogue related to the health of the earth and the vitality of communities. 

Our primary farming goal is soil building and organic seed production.   Our primary social goal is to create a place of reconciliation and re-imagining of shared land and resources between indigenous and non-indigenous people, to provide a place for intercultural exchange between local and international groups of people interested in the ties between food production and human culture. 

 A professional and well-experienced team has been assembled to ensure the success of our project. The natural farming methods and land stewardship techniques focus on providing local food security and viable local solutions to our global climate change challenges. These include integrated watershed management, renewable energy, natural building, carbon farming, seed saving, planting in long-term succession, regenerative crop rotations and perennial polyculture agroforestry for food, fuel and fiber.

Our approach with Cornerstone Farms incorporates the most resilient appropriate technologies and regenerative farming practices that are available today. These practices mimic natural systems and are intensively productive and proven as very high yielding that make this offering a sound one.  A small organic farm with a diversity of offerings by far have the highest potential for profit while maintaining a healthy debt ratio.  This is accomplished through intensive niche planting, integrated pest management techniques, elements providing multiple functions, waste cycling, and soil building techniques that increase fertility and reduce needs for costly inputs and mitigate the vagaries of climate.

The Silva Farm, is an ideal small property for a profitable sustainable and certified organic farm situated in an affluent agricultural-semi-urban zone two miles from downtown Half Moon Bay, California and 25 miles from San Francisco. This 67 acre property has over 20 acres of farmable land in a multitude of micro-climates with southern facing exposure. The property also has a incredible farm infrastructure, including an irrigational pond, barns, farmer worker housing, four mobile homes, a vast amount of equipment, storage buildings, office, and a warehouse with three walk-in coolers.    

 Making it work

Cornerstone Farms has been established as an LLC with an agriculture focus. As a business our assets will be in the land and operational equipment. We forecast all lenders being paid back on the terms set in a five year period with the farm and LLC members making that happen through quarterly payments to investors, our business being a success, crowd-sourcing for support and utilizing the wetland mitigation banking system as well as Agricultural Conservation easements (ACE). 

 After 10 years the land will transition to a Ohlone Community Land Trust, (OCLT) a not-for profit indigenous land trust for the Ohlone people of this land. Under the OCLT, Cornerstone Farms LLC will operate as a farming co-operative with a long term ground lease of 50+years for the farming and community operations.  The LLC operating agreement states that a steering committee holds decision-making power of these activities. This steering committee is comprised of the farm and program directors, members of the advisory board, LLC members and representatives from the Rumsen Ohlone tribe. 

The Cornerstone LLC has 10 shares that are valued at $200,000 each.  Some of these members will live on the land and help run the operations of the farm, others who will be silent investors who will benefit from the success of the operation.   The additional capital needed for start-up, which would include the repurposing of buildings, purchasing existing and new equipment, earthworks, infrastructural upgrades and labor costs would total approximately $350,000 over the first 5 years and an additional $150,000 in the next five. This will be funded through the LLC capital payment and sweat equity payments from members. Additional crowd-sourcing campaigns, matching NRSC grants and in-kind donations will be done to build the cultural aspects of the farm as well as help with capital improvements. 

In working with the local RCD and government agencies we will be enhancing jurisdictional wetlands on 5 acres of the farm as apart of our land stewardship program. The potential for Wetland Mitigation Banking (WMB) credits could help fund larger restoration efforts and help preserve ecological wild sectors within the property. 

Strategies and Conditions for Increased Farm Productivity and Profit

Food price increase forecasts (USDA Food Institute) 3.5-4.5% per year which is conservative.  Some forecasts show that food prices may double in the next five years. 

Reduction of farm inputs: 

  • Integrated pest management and weeding with natural farming systems 
  • Reduced fertilizer input through intensive covercrop rotations and carbon farming strategies  
  • Aquaculture and duck pond fertigant for soil building and fertilizer 
  • Increase microbiology health

Develop direct market sales:
Organic lettuce seeds sell for $80/per pound at wholesale and up to $120/per pound market direct

  • Farmers collective 
  • Farmer’s market 
  • CSA 
  • Restaurant direct 
  • Direct visitors to the farm. 
  • Seed production (8 of 24 acres dedicated in rotation) 
  • Growers collective 20-30 farmers who contribute in growing and buying our seeds
  • High valued crops and value added products grown in perennial cover. Olives with artichokes and  asparagus. Citrus with herbs and berries. 
  • Natural farming with fish for tree fertilization and weeding 
  • Aquaponics system for fertigation and additional yields 
  • Develop market garden and interstitial plantings 
  • Plant understory nitrogen fixing ground cover around trees to increase fertility, to insulate the soil food web and for water retention 
  • Rotational soil building techniques to increase the carbon sink of the fields
  • Wetland restoration to increase the overall health of the watershed and eco-system.


If you are interested in more information or would like to be involved please visit our web-site www.csfarmhub.org or send me an email directly to [email protected]


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My Badges
Consultant Aid worker Pdc teacher
My Permaculture Qualifications
PDC course
Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course
Verifying teacher: Brock Dolman
Other Teachers: Penny Livingston Stark, Adam Wolpert, Dave Henson, Christopher Peck, Melissa Nelson, Doug Gosling
Location: Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, California
Date: Sep 1999
Other course verified
Permaculture Teacher's Training
Type: Teacher Training
Verifying teacher: Christopher Peck
Other Teachers: Michael Kramer
Location: La'akea Gardens, Hawaii
Date: Feb 2003
Other course verified
Advanced Permaculture Training
Type: Permaculture Diploma
Verifying teacher: Geoff Lawton
Other Teachers: Nadia Lawton
Location: RDI, Bolinas, Ca
Date: Jul 2008
Other course unverified
Principles and Pathways
Type: Other
Verifying teacher: David Holmgren
Other Teachers: Penny Livingston
Location: RDI, Bolinas, Ca
Date: Jul 2006
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Benjamin Fahrer has permaculture experience in:
Cold Temperate
Cool Temperate
Warm Temperate
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