Anoka agrees to no-cash farmland lease in, around nature preserve

The city of Anoka has agreed to a no-cash lease for farmland in and around the Anoka Nature Preserve.

The Anoka City Council unanimously approved to agreement with Joe Green Farms, which will put a crop in for the second year.

Since 2009 the city had been leasing this land to Kenco Farms, with the option of an automatic annual renewal, according to Greg Lee, public services director and city engineer.

But in the spring of 2013 Kenco Farms decided it no longer wanted to farm the city-owned property. The city had a one-year right of entry agreement with Joe Green Farms to allow this area to continue being farmed, according to Lee.

The establishment of the Rum River Shores housing development has both reduced the number of farmable acres and made the land difficult to access with equipment.

Lee said this justifies the no cash lease because there are benefits to having the land farmed. Putting a crop in takes care of weed and erosion control on the property, he said.

Farming is a maintenance strategy outlined in the management plan of the property that is protected by a conservation easement.

The area to be farmed is approximately 56 acres, with 44 acres inside the Anoka Nature Preserve and 12 acres at the northwest corner of the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Bunker Lake Boulevard.

Councilmember Jeff Weaver said leasing the land continues a legacy of farming in this area.

This land was once part of the Anoka State Hospital’s farm, which produced food for many of Minnesota’s state hospitals, Weaver said.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]