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Summer 2019 Newsletter Highlights
We hope your season has been as full of growth and sweetness as a burgeoning garden or a buzzing beehive. We’ve been just as busy developing relationships and making new connections to build the framework for an Agrarian Commons.
Our team has grown this season to include an experienced group of writers, organizers, attorneys, and land trust consultants rooted in agrarian communities across the country—all working at home and beyond for a just, equitable, and sustainable food system.
|Growing Our Team|
|Many thanks to the Globetrotter Foundation for making it possible for us to expand our team. To learn more or apply for our Database Manager opportunity, click here. Our FaithLands initiative is also hiring a National Director later this year. |
In the spring, we launched a new series focused on the human side of land transition to amplify the voices of people involved in the kinds of land transition work related to the Agrarian Commons. In her second post, writer and agroecological farmer Darby Weaver explores Opportunities for the Next Generation of Farmers on the Land.
Subscriber Exclusive: Darby’s latest article, Elders are the Trees in the Garden, is part meditation, part celebration of the influential elders who have shaped sustainable agriculture past and present and who offer insight and inspiration to newer generations of land stewards around the world today.
|You may already know our newest contributor to the series, Vanessa García Polanco, whose first essay has been one of the most widely read and shared pieces we’ve ever had the honor of publishing.|
—Don’t miss out on Vanessa’s heartfelt reflections in Los Herederos de la Tierra, The Heirs of The Land.
Vanessa has served at the local, state, and regional level to promote democratic empowerment, racial equity, and the visibility of immigrants in the food system as a member of Food Solutions New England and the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. She is a graduate student in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. Read her latest post to learn more about her work.
We’re also thrilled to formally welcome agricultural attorney, author, and fellow food justice organizer Jillian Hishaw, Esq. as a contributor to the team. Jillian has been collaborating on our Agrarian Commons Creation Committee, facilitating discussions with land access professionals, organizations, and farmers to co-create guidance documents for the Agrarian Commons.
As the founder and CEO of F.A.R.M.S., Jillian is well-versed in civil rights and agricultural policy. She has been recognized as a “Food Changemaker” by Clif Bar and featured in O (Oprah) Magazine, The Atlantic, Vice News, and more.
Our North Carolina FaithLands Pilot Project to identify faith-owned lands and create land access opportunities for historically underserved farmers kicked off this year thanks to the efforts of our hardworking Steering Committee and NC Project Coordinator, Josie Walker.
Josie jumped right in, attending conferences and events to do outreach and develop connections with potential collaborators. She spoke to the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) Community Food Partnerships Peer Network, and attended the HEAL Conference, the IEI Rural Faith Communities As Anchor Institutions Conference, and the Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ. We are grateful to the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary for funding this important work.
Through ourAgrarian Legal Support initiative, we’ve brought together a diverse group of leaders and experts to develop the guiding documents for building a local Agrarian Commons model.
Jillian Hishaw, Esq. joined the team to co-chair this group, the Agrarian Commons Creation Committee, facilitating discussions with land access professionals, organizations, and farmers to co-create guidance documents both for Agrarian Commons and open-source use by others promoting equitable land access and tenure. We are listening, learning, and expanding our thinking to best ground these documents in the diverse realities of communities and farmers.
|We’re working with farms, community groups, and nonprofit partners to facilitate a future Agrarian Commons in regions across the country. Stay tuned!|
| // CASE STUDY // |
Woodland Community Land Trust:
An Antidote to Extraction in Rural Appalachia
Trailblazing community land trusts (CLTs) like Woodland Community Land Trust located in rural Tennessee are in need of national support and resources that will help sustain these land based, movement building communities.
Support and resources can include methods for fostering next generation opportunities, as well as providing ways for elder farmers to age in place. At Agrarian Trust, we are committed to supporting transitions of land, knowledge, experience, people, farms, and stewardship, while prioritizing the legacy of elders. We interviewed members of this forty year-old community for our latest case study to learn more from our CLT elders. Read the case study.
In the past few months, our team has given webinars, presented at conferences, and attended events from coast to coast to introduce the local Agrarian Commons model and engage with potential partners to explore collaborations.
The broad and diverse interest in the Agrarian Commons model has grown through conversations and excitement generated from our presentations and discussions at Transform: Climates, Communities, and Capital in San Francisco, CA and a gathering to discuss commons farmland structures at Dartmouth in Hanover, NH.
Our Agrarian Trust webinars on creating Local Agrarian Commons hosted by the NH Food Alliance and Food Solutions New England had participants from 24 states and four countries!
We received press acknowledgements, including mention in this excellent article on Truthout, “The Role of Regenerative Farming in the Green New Deal,” as well as outreach from and conversations with several U.S. Senate offices.
|A Lot in Common|
|If you’ve read this far, chances are we have a lot in common. We believe that another world is not only possible, and is not only happening, but that we all play an irreplaceable role in bringing this new world to life. Like you, we envision a world where elder farmers, ranchers, and agrarians can retire with dignity, share their knowledge, and create a legacy—and a world where the next generation can reestablish connections to the land, transform the food system, and bring about racial and economic diversity and equity. It’s a world where human-scale farming and planetary-scale land stewardship are valued as unique sources of meaning and culture, as well as sustenance and survival.|
It’s a profoundly hopeful vision, but it means nothing unless it’s shared. Transforming our relationship to the land is part of transforming our relationships to each other. We invite you to take your place in this movement for land justice. Whether as an activist or an organizer, a landowner, a member of a faith community, a farmer, an eater, or citizen of the world, the contributions and energy you bring are vital to the work. The capacity of an Agrarian Commons to engage and transform our relationships to land depends on community support. As always, we’ll make the path by walking it together.
| Here are a few ways you can help us build an Agrarian Commons. Connect: Encourage others to sign up for our newsletter by sharing this link on your social networks: agrariantrust.org/subscribe |
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|To a world where farms are a vibrant and interdependent part of our communities, where small-scale farmers old and new enjoy viable livelihoods and equitable land transition and tenure.|
All the best,
The Agrarian Trust Team
Ian McSweeney, Organizational Director
Jamie Pottern, Land, Community & Education Director
Eliza Spellman Taylor, Community, Farm & Operations Director
Jean Willoughby, Organizational Development Director
Josie Walker, Eastern North Carolina FaithLands Project Coordinator
Kimberly Rawson, Agrarian Commons Outreach Coordinator
Kendra Johnson, California Agrarian Commons Advancement
Jillian Hishaw, Agrarian Commons Creation Committee Co-Chair
Stephanie Borovicka, Bookkeeper
Board of Directors
Zoey Fink, Board Member
Alex Jensen, Board Member
Severine von Tscharner Fleming, Board President
Donate Online: We welcome donations, including gifts of land, to support Agrarian Trust and the creation of an Agrarian Commons. Donate By Mail: Please make checks payable to Agrarian Land Trust. Agrarian Land Trust 22 Buxton School Rd Weare, NH 03281