Farmland LP

For gobbling up land for more sustainable crops.

Farming is hard to scale: Doing well means you need more space. And if you need organic farmland, the challenge is even more daunting. Farmland LP is giving farmers an easier option. This real estate company purchased 6,750 acres of land, worth $50 million, near cities in California and Oregon, which it's converting to organic. It leases the land to farmers who pay rent or a share of their profits.

So far, 21 farmers have signed on. The land is sustainably managed, and farmers and their crops and livestock are rotated from pasture to pasture to ensure that the soil is kept healthy. The practice stimulates growth--not just in higher-margin organic crops. Farmers produced 25 percent more meat per acre.

Farmland LP has also proven attractive to investors, who see acreage as a safe place to park cash. Serial entrepreneur Craig Wichner, who founded Farmland and serves as its managing director, believes he has created a model that's both ecologically and financially beneficial. Over the last 10 years, organic food sales have more than doubled, exceeding $28 billion a year. Last year, B Corps, which certifies sustainable businesses, singled out Farmland LP with one of its highest scores. It was the only agricultural company recognized.

[Photo by Christopher Boffoli]