Community Land Trusts

A Community Land Trust (CLT) is a way of placing land, air, water, and minerals in a Commons with a charter based on the principles of sustainable and ecologically-sound stewardship and use. The land in a CLT is held in trust by a democratically-governed, regionally based, open membership, non-profit corporation. Through an inheritable and renewable long-term lease, the trust removes land from the speculative market and facilitates multiple uses such as affordable housing, village improvement, commercial space, agriculture, recreation, and open space preservation. Individual leaseholders own the buildings and other improvements on the land created by their labor and investment, but do not own the land itself. Resale agreements on the buildings ensure that the land value of a site is not included in future sales, but rather held in perpetuity on behalf of the regional community.

The first community land trust was formed in 1969 in Georgia by Schumacher Center for a New Economics founding President, Robert Swann and Slater King, who together sought to achieve secure access to land for African American farmers. The movement has grown to include over 200 community land trusts throughout the US and is widely understood as the best model for developing permanently affordable homeownership opportunities in regions of escalating land prices.
"Land: Challenge and Opportunity" by Susan Witt and Robert Swann describes the role of the Natural Commons in a new economic system using the Community Land Trust as a tool. It discusses various uses of a Community Land Trust and how different community organizations can cooperate to effectively enable land and farmland preservation, initiate community land use planning and create affordable housing.    Online  |  PDF

  • Indian Line Farm
    The first Community Supported Agriculture farm in North America and a model for farmland preservation and conservation through a unique partnership between The Nature Conservancy, the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires, and farmers Elizabeth Keen and Alex Thorp.
  • Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires
    The Schumacher Center for a New Economics has provided technical assistance to the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires, which owns three tracts of land, including the site of the Schumacher Center Library. The Land Trust also holds Forest Row, a residential neighborhood of permanently affordable housing, and Indian Line Farm, the first Community Supported Agriculture farm in North America and a model for farmland preservation and conservation. (To read the CLTSB info pamphlet, please click here for English, aqui para Español.) The Schumacher Center has developed a Community Land Trust Online Handbook that includes the organizational documents and lease agreements of the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires.


  • Articles
    Essays and background materials available online related to CLT and the role of land in the economic system.
  • CLT Online Handbook 
    Information on how to start a CLT. Includes by-laws, articles of incorporation, lease agreements, and associated documents.
  • Contacts and Supportive Organizations
    Organizations providing resources for community land trusts.
  • Directory of CLTs
    Organized by state with contact information and web sites.

Other Applications:

  • Lake Baikal Project   
    Several staff members went to Olkhon Raion in the summer of 1995 as part of a larger USAID funded project to develop local institutions, land trusts, ecologically sound agricultural production, and economic self-sufficiency among the Buryat people.