Agrarian Trust was conceived in January 2013 by a 30-member team of farmers, ranchers, lawyers, conservationists, farm-service providers, philanthropists, farm business advisers, technical assistants, agricultural economists and accountants at Paicines Ranch, Paicines California. In March, Agrarian Trust was fiscally sponsored by the Schumacher Center for a New Economics under the direction of Severine von Tscharner Fleming and Kendra Johnson. One month later, “Affording Our Land: A Guide to Farm Finance” and the first 14 working case models were published online to be used by retiring and new farmers, land trusts, and other stakeholders. You can order hard cover copies of this guidebook from Hudson Publication Studio.
Since that time we’ve continue to gather more case models of land access and document innovative models of partnership, lease-to-own, community finance, and land-gifting. These stories and strategies can be found from the homepage.
Our mission is threefold:
1. Build the issue of land transfer. What Henry George called “ The Land Question”.
2. Support stakeholders (land owners, new farmers, investors, farm service providers, farm heirs, farmland owners) to make good decisions for the best interest of the land and its stewards
3. Build a Farmland Commons to hold the land, a gold standard that provokes a powerful conversation about the commons.
Agrarian Trust is happy to be partnering with the Sustainable Economies Law Center of Berkeley California in writing the legal language to hold land in the farmland commons. We hope to be ready to take in farms by April 2015, primarily via ” land gifting” in the tradition of the Boodan movement.
The trust design is based on the work of Terre De Liens, a French group that has protected more than 100 organic farms, as well as the principles gathered from our stakeholder community during the Paicines sessions.
The design is informed by the question: ” What does the land want?” And how can we arrange the social and economic relationships around that goal. Through our work we can preserve affordable farmland for sustainable agriculture, in perpetuity. In the face of land grabbing, speculation, financialization and farmland loss to development– we know the power of example to provoke a conversation about the foundation of our economy.