Cultivating a Farmland Commons

A new generation of young, well-prepared, and sustainable farmers is on the rise, ready to establish themselves securely on the land.  Inspired by the opportunity to do meaningful, healthy, and productive work by rebuilding regional food systems, these entrepreneurs form a powerful force for the future of ecologically informed agriculture. 
 
By raising food locally for local markets and fostering a farm-to-table cuisine, they are creating an alternative to our global supply chain and making visible the connection among food, farms, farmers, and community.

As drought continues to cause damage to over 40% of the US, made worse by a dependence on centralized crop production, the shift to a place-based agriculture led by these new agrarians  promises a more diverse and secure food system that is more resilient to changes in the weather, less energy dependent, more beneficial to soil health, and more socially and culturally equitable.
 
This shift is complicated by the fact that during the next two decades over 400 million acres of farmland (40% of all productive agricultural land) will change hands, potentially triggering even greater corporate concentration of agricultural interests and practices.  The new demographic of farmers and their initiatives to transform agriculture is hindered by the high cost of entering farming.
 
If issues of land transfer and land security are met head on, however, we can inspire the creation of a new network of regionally based "farmland commons" -- allocating land use in a way that protects the interests of regional communities and their unique eco-systems. 
 
Two upcoming symposiums address this urgent subject -- one a national call to action, detailing  the consequences of historic and current patterns of farmland ownership and arguing for a revolutionary response; the other a regional response, a gathering of place-based organizations working to create a capacity to hold and lease farmland by and for their regional community, providing security and equity in building improvements for the leasing farmers. 
 
Both events require pre-registration.  Details, including a list of speakers, follow.  For those unable to attend, proceedings from both Symposiums will be posted on the Schumacher Center's website.  Additional resource materials on the topic of access to land for farmers can be found at agrariantrust.org and communitylandtrust.org