Talking to your landlord

Maybe your landowner is an absentee investor with little knowledge of farming practices, or maybe your landowner is a retired farmer that knows the ropes far better than you. Every landowner is different from the next, but here are a few tips to working with any landlord.

Communication: Communicate clearly and avoid industry jargon, especially if speaking with a landlord that is relatively unfamiliar with it. In general, different generations prefer different styles of communication – many younger people prefer texting but other people prefer the telephone or in-person visits. Regardless of your personal preference, find out when and how your landlord wants to communicate and do your best to stick to that.

Going the extra mile: A personal touch can also go a long way in building trust, so try dropping off a small Christmas gift or staying for a coffee when you drop off the rent cheque. Agreements to plow snow out of laneways, to clean up around buildings or to bring over hay can also make a difference to a landowner, so why not ask? One landowner remarked that she liked how her renter called her before he come onto the property with machinery so that she could put her dogs inside.

Demonstrating soil health: Show your landlord the practices you use to conserve and build soil on your home farm. If you’re looking for a property, try attaching a cover letter to your rental bid that outlines how much you value soil. Discuss what you would grow and how you would grow it. If you’ve done the math, you might want to show how much investment you make into cover crops and equipment that improve the soil. Seeing is believing; and your enthusiasm just might be contagious. If you’re a great farmer and you know how to build soil, don’t be modest. Post photos and experiences from your operation on social media or make a website so that your landlords can learn more.

Click here to download a discussion check-list you can use at your next meeting.