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Historic Mecklenburg farm is looking for a tenant

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission is looking for a very unusual tenant for the Edward M. Rozzell House and farm on Rozelles Ferry Road. Director Dan Morrill is trying to find someone who will put the old farm back into production to grow fresh produce.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission is looking for a very unusual tenant for the Edward M. Rozzell House and farm on Rozelles Ferry Road. Director Dan Morrill is trying to find someone who will put the old farm back into production to grow fresh produce. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Hey, hayseed: Have we got a deal for you.

Actually, Dan Morrill has the deal for you. The director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission wants to find someone who is itching to get their fingers in dirt and bring a historic farm back into production.

The Edward M. Rozzell House, at 11647 Rozzelles Ferry Road, sits on 5 acres of land close to Mountain Island Lake. The landmarks commission owns the property, which includes an 1880s house (settle down, Martha Stewart – it needs a lot of work), several farm structures including a barn and well house, and a field.

It’s the field Morrill is interested in. He wants to lease the property to someone who will use it to grow crops. (Plants only – no livestock.)

“It just bothers me so badly that here is this wonderful piece of land and it’s just doing nothing,” Morrill said. “That’s the historical use of the property – it was a farm. So what better use for it than to do that?”

The landmarks commission buys properties to keep them from being developed, but it doesn’t keep them. It sells them, with restrictions on how they can be used, and uses the money to buy other historic properties.

It has owned the Rozzell farm for about 10 years, but has never found a buyer. It’s currently priced at $299,000.

Morrill has something else in mind. He wants it to be farmed somehow, as a community garden or a local-foods farm. Ideally, he hopes to find someone who wants to farm but needs dirt.

For a use like that, he says, they would be willing to lease it for $100 a month with an option to buy. The commission came close to a deal with a chef, Clark Barlowe of Heirloom Restaurant. But he decided he didn’t have time to tackle it.

“I would love to be involved,” Barlowe said. “It’s just an issue of, I don’t have 10 of me.”

To find the right person, Morrill made a video showing the property and making his pitch, “for the future of Mecklenburg County.”

“You couldn’t have better owners than us,” Morrill said. “We’ll cut a real deal to get somebody out there.”

Purvis: 704-358-5236

Interested in urban farming?

For inquiries about the Edward M. Rozzell farm, call Dan Morrill, 704-333-7777, or email him at danmorrill2@gmail.com.

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