CONFLUENCE AGRARIAN COMMONS
Local Agrarian Commons Board
Leasehold Farmers and Community Stakeholders:
Four members of the Rhize Home Community*
Eliza Spellman Taylor
*Board members shared upon request.
The Confluence Agrarian Commons is organized and shall be operated exclusively for the purpose of holding title to property, collecting income therefrom, and turning the entire amount, less expenses to the AGRARIAN LAND TRUST within the meaning of Section 501(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (the “Code”). Agrarian Land Trust, the parent corporation of Confluence Agrarian Commons, is a California nonprofit public benefit corporation exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(a) and described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Code.
The Confluence Agrarian Commons is working with people to preserve the agrarian landscape while making equitable land-based community viable for the next generation of young farmers, healers, and activists. Through holding, preserving, and giving people equitable access to land via 99-year ground leases, we can collectively help ensure the equitable transition of farmland to those historically disenfranchised from secure land access in the region.
The history of this land and what we’re growing
Confluence Agrarian Commons is made up of land near the meeting of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, a site of gathering, ceremony and trade for the indigenous Siouan tribes of the Manahoac, Monacan, Massawomeck, Saponi, and Tutelo, as well as for Algonquian and Iroquois peoples from across the eastern seaboard, for thousands of years. This land then was conceived of as “property” by distant British landlords, who sold off pieces of it, including this one, without permission to own it, let alone sell it. Those who thought they could own this land went on to engage in the violent trade of enslaving humans. So, this rich, fertile soil was tended and stewarded for over 100 years by enslaved African men, women and children. Many fled north during and after the Civil War and others created communities around Loudoun County.
In 1973, a local family purchased the land as part of a growing, then decade old, family-run vegetable farm still serving the DC metro region with ecoganic vegetables. Since 2017, 20 acres of this land has been stewarded by Rhize Home community, which, together with the farm owning family and Agrarian Trust, is responsible for transitioning this land into Confluence Agrarian Commons.
At the heart of their vision, Confluence AC is committed to building the physical as well as invisible infrastructure for relational culture. They are dedicated to unearthing and sharing the histories of indigenous life and Black stewardship of this land, re-foresting, gardening, nature and forest-based learning, experimental natural building, community weaving through creativity and the arts, and holding healing space for people across class, racialized, and gendered lines, drawing from their various ancestral lineages. While they are currently a majority white group, they are deeply committed to becoming an ever more cross-race and cross-class community, centering marginalized experiences. Shifting land from private, family ownership to a community land trust is a crucial step in the journey of the land becoming more accessible to people of different backgrounds, as well as honoring its history. They are also deeply committed to continuing resourcing kindred communities, particularly BIPOC communities, to return to land in healing, empowering and nourishing ways.
Why support Confluence Agrarian Commons?
Confluence Agrarian Commons is raising money to contribute to radically accessible, sustainable land-based relational communities in and around Virginia. Some of these initiatives include:
- Radically affordable, energy efficient housing, for BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) community members, both on this parcel of land, and for BIPOC people at other land trusts.
- Reforestation of the land.
- Holistic community education, including a forest and garden school, immersive land based experiences for youth and adults of all backgrounds.
- A Black-led, cooperative, sliding scale community cafe.
- Income and wealth sharing models that account for racialized, intergenerational wealth disparities, which could inspire sister communities.
- Community-engaged, community-building arts events -- open mics, cob oven pizza parties, land-based theater and puppetry.
Stay tuned for fundraising opportunities or contribute here: https://agrariantrust.org/agrariancommons/give
Land Acknowledgment & History:
The land we are on can primarily be considered Siouan land, as it was most inhabited by the Siouan tribes of the Manahoac and, slightly south, the Monacan, with whom the Manahoac were allied. The Virginian Siouans, according to the Monacan’s documented history, grew the three sisters crop of beans, corn, and squash. They also domesticated sunflowers, fruit trees, wild grapes, and nuts. They hunted deer, elk, and small game. They built their homes out of bark and reed mats.
- The Massawomeck stewarded the land slightly west of here
- The Manahoac’s traditional lands are documented to be here
- The Nacotchtank farmed and lived on the land all around the Anacostia River
- The Piscataway tended (and tend) to the region around the Chesapeake
- We know the Saponi and Tutelo passed through this area and centered further southwest of her
It’s impossible to talk about this land in the language of “these people were here and these people were not,” because Indigenous conceptualizations of land and property are vastly different than Western settler ones. We know from certain treaties, when Indigenous nations were being pushed further and further west, that Algonquian and Iroquois tribes also traveled and hunted in this region.
Confluence Agrarian Commons is a part of a network of neighboring farms and related businesses stewarding 400 acres in Northern Virginia (Loudoun county). These farms encompass a diversity of products including vegetables, organic flowers, and dairy.
The Rhize Home community supports partnerships with Washington DC area nonprofits to donate food requested from low-income DC communities.
EVENTS & OPPORTUNITIES - Stay Tuned!
AGRARIAN COMMONS PRESS
- Reuters: 'Commons' effort seeks to keep U.S. farmland affordable - indefinitely
- Shelterforce: Creative Ways to Finance Agriculture
- Mother Earth News: CSA 2020: It's Not Just About Food
- WFXR TV: Agrarian Commons supports farmland access
- Local Futures: Profile of Agrarian Trust
- Resilience.org: Globalize the Struggle! Globalize Hope!
- Civil Eats: An Enormous Land Transition is Underway. Here’s How to Make it Just
- In These Times: Agrarian Trust, Finding Land for the Next Generation of Farmers
- Resilience.org: The Agrarian Alternative
- Resilience.org: The Future of Farmland: Grabbing the Land Back
- Nonprofit Quarterly: The Role of Regenerative Farming in the Green New Deal
- Civil Eats: For a New Generation of Farmers, Accessing Land is the First Step Toward Tackling Consolidation
- Concord Monitor: All the good vibes in the world may not be enough for a farmer who doesn’t own the land
- Civil Eats: Could Putting Farmland in the Commons Support Land Justice and Sustainability?
A SNAPSHOT OF FARMING IN VIRGINIA
- Average Age: 58
- Beginner farmers: 18,957
- Farmers of color: 2,997
- White farmers: 68,053
- American Indian or Alaska Native farmers: 168
- Hispanic, Latino or Spanish, Origin farmers: 845
- Black farmers: 1,693
- Asian farmers: 259
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander farmers: 32
- Female farmers: 25,509
- Male farmers: 45,085
Farmland Loss: 339,800 in Virginia (2001-2016)
Average Farm Real Estate Value: $4,620/acre
Farm Average Income: $19,306
Top Agricultural Products by Sales (in order of highest to lowest): Grains, oilseeds, dry beans, dry peas, corn, wheat, soybeans, sorghum, barley, rice, tobacco, cotton, vegetables, fruits, greenhouse products, Christmas trees, maple syrup, poultry and eggs, cattle and calves, milk from cows, hogs and pigs, sheep, goats, wool, goat milk, horses, ponies, mules, burros, donkeys, aquaculture. (source)