The storm is upon us We bowed heads in prayer as Tropical Storm Michael lashed the sides of our Winston-Salem hotel. We prayed for folks across North Carolina who had just survived Hurricane Florence and were now being struck by
Agrarian Trust staff had the pleasure of meeting with farmers, landowners, and organizers at Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent, NY and The Watershed Center in Millerton, NY in late October. We learned a lot from our colleagues in the Hudson Valley and reflected on the economic and social aspects of our beginning agrarian commons work. Above all, it was an honor to spend time with organizations and people engaged in such compelling and inspiring place-based work with larger justice implications.
We hope you’ve been enjoying the changing of the seasons. We’re looking forward to the crackle of leaves and harvests of autumn—and to the many upcoming events where we’ll have the opportunity to meet and share more on our work to create a Agrarian Commons. As we travel the land, meeting with farmers and communities, we’ve been sharing our vision and documenting successful stories that inform our approach to land stewardship and equity…
Fordhall Farm shows how enterprising young farmers can engage with the community, mutualise the land and put it into trusteeship using the Industrial and Provident Society structure, raise the purchase capital from members and balance community access rights with farming needs. Ben and Charlotte Hollins were given a Schumacher Award in October 2006.
The National Trust of England is the country’s largest owner of farmland. Agricultural land is one aspect of the organization’s conservation goals. Established in the late 1800s, with a vision for preserving the nation’s heritage and open spaces, the charity organization has continued to uphold the value of their founders. Originally established as an Association not-for-profit in 1884, the trust was soon after given more solidity through various acts of British Parliament. The organization remains independent of government and relies on grants, donors and other sources of income, rather than direct government subsidy. Some of the funds come from admission to and products from the trusts Home Farm as well as other preserved historic estates.
Black farmers have developed countless creative and enduring responses to the challenges of discrimination and disinvestment in US agriculture. Far too many of the initiatives led by Black farmers in the past did not thrive due in part to a hostile social and political climate that devalued and discouraged their efforts. The continued work of organizations such as the Federation of Southern Cooperatives helps ensure that the innovative approaches to land ownership and agricultural production developed by Black farmers will be recognized and documented, as well as carried forward by future generations. We still have much to learn from the history of Black farmers in America.
Concepts such as agroecology, biodynamics, permaculture, food miles, food deserts, food justice, and local food have all proliferated in both popular and scholarly venues over the past ten to fifteen years. Such a sustainable agriculture gestalt is vibrant and worthy of more sustained discussion and critical attention. In this spirit, “The Spirit of Sustainable Agriculture” aims to bring together farmers, religious and spiritual leaders, and academics, respectively, to join in a robust and stimulating discussion about the spirit of sustainable agriculture, delineating its past, celebrating and investigating its present, and theorizing its future.
In the context of global warming, issues of access to land and water have been revived at a moment of disappearing land, mass migration, foreclosures, evictions, rent hikes, land grabs, and the privatization of clean water. We believe that now is a vital moment for academics and activists to enter a shared conversation about control and access to land and water, naming the most formidable challenges, the utopian models, and the important historical analogues for our present moment.
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.