My name is Philip Gleason, I love the Lord, I sustain his Prophet and I am not tired of waiting for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to do something. In fact, President Nelson is moving us at light speed in preparation for our Savior's return. He is one of my heroes, including the Quorum of Twelve. I make following their counsel a priority and encourage others to do the same.
I share this only with the intent to communicate some information that may be lacking. Yes. Others and I are involved in creating an agricultural cooperative community. However, it is not a prepper community, though there are professed peppers involved. What we have is an Agricultural Cooperative, created under Title 3 of the Utah Code. This legislation is designed to help the small agricultural producer get a leg up. In fact, it is a non-profit corporation, not to be confused with a 501c3 non-profit. There are over one million families in the US that own their property through a land cooperative. Check out www.community-wealth.org.
Essentially, a land cooperative is the means where a group of people can purchase land at a discounted price because of the volume being purchased. The purpose of the Utah OSR Land Cooperative is to provide families an opportunity to homestead on 2 acres allowing them to become agricultural producers. We have found that people are drawn to this project for 3 different reasons. The first is health, an opportunity to get out of a crowed city away from pesticides and other stressors. The second is safety, from things now or maybe in the future. The third is most prevalent and that is for a family life associated with self-reliance and like-minded neighbors.
This is not a cult, a commune, the united order, or law of consecration. It is not a political statement. It is an agricultural cooperative, providing an opportunity for families to have a passive solar home, a barn, a greenhouse, a garden/orchard, a solar-powered well and approved sanitation on two acres while remaining debt-free. That last item is the most challenging. This program requires individuals to have enough resources to build their home, a minimum of 600 square feet, their barn, their greenhouse a minimum of 600 square feet, put in their garden/orchard, their well with solar power and approved sanitation.
In addition, because of bulk buying and other strategies we are able to reduce the cost substantially. An example of this principle is the fact, that by creating the agricultural cooperative we were able to purchase 1,245 acres of farm ground with 2,855 acre-feet of water in Juab County. This corporation was created to have 250 shareholders, each with one vote. The capital for this project is self-funding. There is a minimum 2-acre per household requirement in the Outlying District Zone of Juab County. The price per parcel starts at $20,000 for 2.0 - 2.4 acres and up from there. Yet, there is still one vote per share and only one share per individual that is at least 18 years old and has the ability to build out their parcel within 36 months.
This project is not for speculators, it is for those that want to become self-reliant, and debt-free with like-minded neighbors. Let me interject here what is meant by like-minded neighbors. There are four elements by which we try to identify like-minded individuals and keep in mind that the cooperative is just like communities that limit individuals to 55 and older, as the law allows a cooperative to be selective as to whom they allow membership. Another example is found in credit unions and churches which require certain standards in order to be able to participate. These four elements are first, the person must have a deep desire to be self-reliant, second, they must be honest and show that they have integrity, third, they must like people (a narcissist will not like living around self-reliant people, as they will have opinions), and fourth, they have an understanding that choices have consequences, how you treat yourself, your family, your neighbor, the water, the land all have consequences.
The Ranch that the cooperative owns has 1,245 acres in total. 500 acres of the Ranch has 250 parcels set aside for the shareholders. Each shareholder will have and be responsible for their own parcel. As this is a market value cooperative, an individual can sell his/her share at whatever the prevailing market is. However, the Membership Agreement states that if you sell for some reason within the first five years, the cooperative has the first right-of-refusal. The remaining requirement for the individual is that the individual purchasing the property must be approved by the Board of Directors, in specific the Chairman of the Board. This is a requirement that helps maintain individuals who want to be self-reliant.
For those that want this type of environment and yet are unable due to health or age to operate the property in an agricultural manner, the parcel can be sharecropped or managed by someone else.
The remaining 745 acres are being used to provide roads, right-of-ways, goods, services, jobs, and income for the whole cooperative. Two of these services owned by the cooperative will be a 100 space RV/Campground and a Co-op Store with Farmers Market. There is much more, but this gives a small look into this agricultural cooperative.
The management of the cooperative is by representation as with any other corporation. There will be five voting districts, each with their own representative. This is the same model used in every other voting district. As for rules and laws, the coop falls in the jurisdiction of the Juab County Sheriff. As for rules, there are some like growing trees that are on the edge of your parcel that are over 25 feet tall that would shade your neighbor's solar panels is frowned upon. If you let your dog run loose and it kills your neighbor's chickens, you have the responsibility to take care of the damage. If you conduct illegal and dangerous business on your parcel, the same rules apply in the co-op as they do everywhere else.
As for a money-making scheme, this is a non-profit corporation. That is the reason you do not see very many people setting these up. Developers want to make money and developing an agricultural co-op is not a money maker. Those of us who have invested time and money into this project just want a healthy, safe place for our families. The Utah OSR Land Cooperative is another form of a sub-division, one that has the purpose of producing food and other agricultural-related goods and services. By utilizing the purchasing power of a group versus the ability of a single person, the group has a much greater ability to acquire property.
Now, I would like to address D&C 58:26-29. One does not need to be commanded in every needful thing. However, we have been commanded to prepare every needful thing as quoted by the First Presidency in the "All Is Safely Gathered In" pamphlet printed in 2007 and still available on the Church's website and D&C 109:8. I will let the Prophets and Apostles speak for themselves.
There were seven of us that started this journey with limited resources to help families transition from a city lifestyle of dependencies to a country culture of self-reliance, with like-minded neighbors, while remaining debt-free. We have made mistakes, yet we meet together as a council (board of directors & shareholders) and sort through the challenges. I personally have made friends through this endeavor who mean to world to me. Because they are like-minded and I cherish them for it.
The last item that I would like to address is the number of times individuals have told me how this project will never work or that there is not enough time. (I have been told by various groups and individuals over the years that time was up. Maybe, maybe not.) With the Lord's help, this project is moving more quickly than we could ever have imagined.
• We have the property in our name.
• Families are already living on the property as we are remodeling a couple of the structures and preparing to build the first three homes with another dozen in the works.
• We are planting trees and gardens.
• We have courtesy wells in operation.
• Shareholders are selecting their parcels.
• Families are coming out to either help with service projects or just enjoy the outdoors.
• We are scheduling events, inviting the outside community to come and enjoy a healthy, safe, family environment while celebrating all that is good around us.
By their fruits, you shall know them. We have over 30 amazing families that have come on board, each with a different story, each with hope and a willingness to do something to achieve self-reliance. They range from the mid-20s to mid-70s. There are another two dozen that are preparing a way for themselves to participate and we are just getting started.
Philip J. Gleason