In the words of our Board President, Mike McIntosh, “We bought a farm!” After seven years of slowly evolving from a conversation to a fully incorporated nonprofit with a board, Plainsong Farm & Ministry now owns the twelve acres and two houses that make up the land we care for.
My husband and I have owned the yellow house since 2001, when we bought it as a family home, and the brown house since 2015, when I bought it to help bring Plainsong to life.
When Plainsong incorporated as a nonprofit in 2019, it became apparent that the time would come when the organization would need to own the land. The board began that work in 2021, when Dave and I made an offer to sell both properties to Plainsong Farm & Ministry at below market value and provide a seller-financed mortgage so the organization could purchase them from us over time without any down payment.
The process of finalizing an agreement for purchase took time, care and much pro bono labor contributed by Warner Norcross + Judd LLP along with dedicated work and care from two successive board presidents: the Rev. Bryan Schneider-Thomas and Michael McIntosh. Because Plainsong is legally an Episcopal Church agency, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan requested a Right of First Refusal if at any point in time the Board of Plainsong Farm & Ministry determines that it desires to sell the property. Our board agreed to this request, recognizing that the organization will remain in relationship with the diocese over the long term.
On Tuesday, November 29th, the Bishop of the Diocese of Western Michigan came to the farm to sign the Right of First Refusal. Then, the Board President Michael McIntosh and Board Secretary Steve Waterbury, as the representatives of Plainsong Farm & Ministry, and I, representing my family as the seller, met at the downtown offices of Warner Norcross + Judd LLP to sign the rest of the documents finalizing the sale.
Following the closing, our board president wrote this to the rest of the board:
“We bought a farm today. In terms of real estate, we, the Board, now own the farm in trust for the entire organization.The farm belongs to us.
It is just as true, I like to think more so, that we belong to the farm. It now has its claim on us in ways that it did not before, in ways we can only start to imagine, in ways that it may take years and decades and perhaps generations to unfold.
I'm happy we bought the farm today, very glad, yet perhaps more sobered than anything as I write this tonight. But today was a quiet day, surprising in light of all the work going on behind the scenes to make this happen.
This morning the Bishop signed the right of first refusal document at the Farm.
This afternoon at Warner Norcross + Judd LLP the multiple real estate, title, and other documents were signed in triplicate. Everything went very smoothly. It was uneventful because of the amount of careful work that preceded today.
As a reminder, Bryan spent months laying the foundation for this to happen last year. Steve worked tirelessly to lead and advise and coordinate and communicate to bring this together this year. Nurya has of course worn two hats and been involved through this all. Many others did their part.
It was a quiet day, and it was a good day.
We will acknowledge and celebrate this event more fully at our final board meeting. Until then, please join me in thanks to God that today we belong to the Farm.”
With great joy I join in this thanks, and I hope you will too.
Plainsong’s Board could buy this farm for the future because of the donors, supporters and partners of this organization that brought this organization to life.
If you are one of them, I hope you also will join in giving thanks. If you are not one yet, I hope you will join in giving thanks, and join in this wonderful organization as a supporting member.
Now that the organization owns the farm, we will begin to dream of things that were impossible before.
We will dream of barn renovation.
We will dream of intentional property design and development.
We will dream of putting all the next steps in place to cultivate connections between people, places and God as a place that nurtures belonging and the radical renewal of God’s world.
Thanks be to God for bringing this to life, to the Board for holding responsibility for ensuring this mission is achieved, and to all of you who are now, and will be in the future, part of continuing this great work.