About 50% of Midwestern landowners in Iowa are women. Many of these women are non-operator farm-owners whose spouses have passed away. The Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN) has been serving these Midwestern women farmers and farmland owners since their founding as a non-profit project in 1997. The network was created to provide information, networking and leadership development opportunities to women working in sustainable agriculture and food systems development.
The story of Temple-Wilton Community Farm is one of community and commitment, persistence, and vision. As a community-based farm, Temple-Wilton provides support for its farmers and food security for its members. The farm exemplifies how Agrarian Trust might protect a working farm in perpetuity as a kind of ‘agrarian commons’ while upholding the values of access, affordability, and land security.
Investing in small-scale agriculture is not always seen as a secure investment. Sharing the risk by using a split mortgage helped Blue Ox Organics farmers Lauren and Caleb Langworthy buy their land.
The American Farmland Trust (AFT) is a pioneer in organizing planned donation of land for agricultural preservation. Their Forever Farmland Society (FFS) offers a way for farm-owners to include AFT in their estate planning.
Our Table Co-op is the farm business part of a three organization system, all working together to realize a shared vision. The group started when their non-profit fiscal arm, Community by Design, LLC, purchased the 58-acre farm in Sherwood, OR, in September of 2011.
The 14,000-member La Montañita Co-op runs the La Montañita (LaM) Fund, a member-funded micro-lending program for food system producers and cooperative businesses in New Mexico. The fund provides affordable one-, three-, and five-year notes for small- and medium-scale projects that increase sustainable production.
In a uniquely collaborative arrangement developed by the Schumacher Center for a New Economics, the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires, the Berkshire Highlands Program of The Nature Conservancy, and farmers Elizabeth Keen and Alex Thorp joined together to purchase Indian Line Farm in southwestern Massachusetts. The aims of the partnership are to preserve the first CSA farm project in North America, to maintain it as a working organic farm, to protect the adjacent sensitive wetlands, and to provide small-scale farmers access to affordable farmland.
Book & Plow Farm is the result of a student-driven initiative to get local food into Valentine Dining Hall at Amherst College, a small liberal arts school in western Massachusetts. The farm functions as a private, for-profit business farming on college-owned farmland. The farm has a contract with the college to supply vegetables for campus dining commons as well as to be an educational resource for the school. Book & Plow was selected through a proposal process. The college offers the farmland as well as some financial support for infrastructure.
The Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Community Farm initiative was born in 1994 when it appeared that biodynamic Tablehurst Farm might be lost after more than 25 years of careful husbandry by Emerson College. The college could no longer support the farm and, following a major community fund-raising drive, agreed to sell the farm assets to the community while retaining ownership of the land.
How do we cooperatively own and steward land for food sovereignty, soil and ecosystem health, community benefit, service to the watershed, and more? Agrarian Trust’s proposed method is a new form (legal, cultural, and financial) of land ownership to support land access for the next generation of farmers, and we make the path by walking it.