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Agrarian Trust November 2020 Newsletter

In the wake of Election Day, we are reflecting on relationships and resilience. We are reminded that voting and electing a new President is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making transformative change in this nation. Our power and resilience lies in our relationships. As we see the door of possibility opening, our work in the coming days, weeks, months and years to build resilience in the agricultural system through transformation in land ownership, access, and tenure must be a priority. It is essential that we change our relationships with land in a way that begins to change our relationships with ourselves and each other. We’re excited to share with you about successes in Maine, and our next project in West Virginia.

We are inspired by the success of the Little Jubba Central Maine Agrarian Commons that illustrates what is possible. Last month the 104 acre farm in Wales, ME became a home for the LJCMAC and we are now seeing members of the Somali Bantu Community Association beginning to realize their farm dreams on this land. This story illustrates a tiny part of the peace and healing that is so needed right now.

Today, we invite you to join us as we work to cultivate relationships through the West Virginia Agrarian Commons fundraise to bring an 82 acre farm into their commons in Fayette County. The West Virginia AC’s vision of community ownership resounds in possibilities for Appalachian people, for whom there is a long history of solidarity and collective action against corporate financial extraction interests, from multiple 20th century coal miner strikes to more recent state-wide strikes initiated by teachers and librarians. The vision of community ownership affirms this history and stands in stark contrast to land accumulation and resource extraction by absentee land holding and development companies which left much of the state a national “sacrifice zone” for economic development elsewhere.

Our work to build resilience through land transformation relies on strong relationships, and we are grateful to be in community with each of you. We hope that you’ll share this work with your networks and stay engaged to help us tell these powerful stories.

In solidarity,

Megan, Wendy, Eliza, Daniel
& the Agrarian Trust team


// WEST VIRGINIA AGRARIAN COMMONS // 

ANNOUNCING THE NEXT AGRARIAN COMMONS PROJECT TO TRANSFORM OWNERSHIP, TENURE & EQUITY

As of today, the West Virginia Agrarian Commons is raising $258,000 to acquire an 82 acre organic farm in Fayetteville, WV to support food production, access, security, and equity to realize a new land-based economy in the post-coal region of Southern West Virginia. The West Virginia AC will then convey two equitable 99-year leases to New Roots Community Farm and an emerging agricultural producer cooperative comprised of next-generation farmers. New Roots Community Farm and the producer cooperative will work closely together to address identified barriers in the development of a just food system.

Your support will fund the purchase of the farm and permanent land security for next generation farmers and communities in West Virginia.

New Roots Community Farm envisions a just food system, and the Agrarian Commons offers long term stability, security, and equity to help make that possible. Learn more about New Roots in this film by Braiden Maddox.

// NEWS & MEDIA // 

New Film Celebrating the Somali Bantu Community Association

We want to say a special thank you to Videographer Alexander Sutula for this documentary capturing the farmers moving onto their new land. This land acquisition was made possible by supporters of the Little Jubba Central Maine Agrarian Commons. Watch the film here.

Somali Bantu Community Association’s Executive Director Muhidin Libah narrates their journey to finding a permanent home. “If you see us farming, everything is peaceful and kind of settled…”

New Report

Agrarian Commons viewed as a land access solution in a new Patagonia-sponsored report from Guidelight Strategies, featuring Agrarian Trust and farms of the Montana and Vermont Agrarian Commons. Barriers For Farmers & Ranchers To Adopt Regenerative Ag Practices In The US [PDF]

We would love to see that more people collectively understand the differences between poorly managed and amazingly managed grasslands, woodlands, and forest lands, and that farmers are able to sell their food at a price that is able to pay them a living salary… We are looking into community-held commons models of land ownership, such as the Agrarian Trust model, as a land holding model that we are really excited about to take debt service for land out of the equation for farmers.

from the report

New Podcast

Investing in Regenerative Agriculture and Food – Soil Builders, updates on: green bonds in regen ag and the land ownership in the commons in the US

New NPR Radio Segment Featuring the Little Jubba Central Maine Agrarian Commons

A Community Approach to Farmland

There were a lot of pieces, cultural pieces that were missing from the leased land. So on this farm we are able to improvise and add a lot of traditional pieces that we used to have back home in Africa. We can make buildings where kids can play. We can turn one of the buildings into a community meeting space where the community can come.

Muhidin Libah, Somali Bantu Community Association

// FAITHLANDS // 

Stay tuned for the upcoming release of the FaithLands Toolkit. Created through Agrarian Trust’s FaithLands Initiative, the toolkit is the fruit of months of inspiring conversation and collaboration with faith leaders and partners around the US (and beyond). The FaithLands Toolkit will serve as a guide to support faith communities in considering their respective spiritual traditions, linking their core values and beliefs to the land, and offering ways to join a growing number of faith communities in the production of food, support of basic human needs, and the building of resilient communities while also promoting equity and justice through the land.


  // PARTNER HIGHLIGHTS // 

West Virginia Agrarian Commons Fundraiser Highlight

New Roots Community Farm and the Freefolk Brewery in Fayetteville, WV collaborate to support the Virginia Big Eared Bat.

One of the key components in each of the Agrarian Commons is community strength and economic development. Within our current fundraising kickoff for the West Virginia Agrarian Commons, there is an entire network of farms, food, people and businesses working to create balance and equity while at the same time restoring the land. And they have fun doing it! Check out Freefolk’s Butternut Brown Ale with roasted chicory, sourced from New Roots Community Farm.

We are actively fundraising and look forward to more collaborations as the West Virginia Agrarian Commons grows, expanding shared awareness of collaborating food and farm businesses. Visit our WV partners page and contact us if you are a farm or food business, or any other organization interested in partnering with the West Virginia Agrarian Commons.

Agrarian Trust Accepted as a 1% For the Planet Non-Profit Partner

We are pleased to announce that we have been carefully vetted and approved as a nonprofit partner with 1% for the Planet and are now eligible to receive funding. This partnership is intended to advance our impact as well as involve more businesses and individuals in the environmental movement. 1% for the Planet is a global organization that makes environmental giving easy and effective through partnership advising, impact storytelling and third-party certification. Started in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, their members have given more than $270 million to nonprofit partners to date. With this acceptance, Agrarian Trust is joining the ranks of Patagonia, HonestTea, Klean Kanteen, King Arthur Flour, the Jane Goodall Institute, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund and 350.org.


// STAFF HIGHLIGHTS //

Join us in welcoming Kristina and Shakara!

Kristina Villa: New Social Media Manager
Kristina is a farmer, communicator, and community coordinator from Georgia now farming in Red Boiling Springs, TN. Kristina brings over a decade of social media experience and over seven years of vegetable farming and cattle management experience to the team. Visit our FacebookInstagramTwitter or Linked-in to say hello! Welcome to the team Kristina!

Shakara Tyler: USFSA Political Education Outreach Coordinator
Shakara is a returning generation farmer, educator and activist-scholar who engages in Black agrarianism, agroecology, food sovereignty and climate justice as commitments of abolition and decolonization. She obtained her PhD at Michigan State University in Community Sustainability and works with Black farming communities in Michigan and the Mid-Atlantic, serves as Board President at the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network and as a board member of the Detroit People’s Food Co-op. She will survey USFSA members, build towards the aspirations of BIPOC leadership with the USFSA, and support political education programs for USFSA members. Welcome Shakara!

Learn more about Kristina and Shakara on our Team page.

New Book by Jillian Hishaw, Esq.

Agrarian Trust Staff Contributor Jillian Hishaw, Esq., Releases New Book Systematic Land Theft

Book Info: Whites presently own over ninety-five percent of farmland in the United States through the misappropriation of tribal nation lands and the exploitation of enslaved Africans. As the enslaved African population grew, the government welcomed immigrants from Europe to settle into the U.S., ensuring their majority status. Jillian is instrumental in her efforts, recently named one of the top 10 Black Farmer Instagram accounts.


  // PAST EVENTS // 

35th Sustainable Agriculture Conference
Nov 4-8

Agrarian Trust participated in a Land Access Connections panel discussion as part of New Entry Sustainable Farming Project’s 16th annual National FIELD School, hosted virtually November 4 – 8 in conjunction with Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference. The event was well attended and the panel focused on alternative land access strategies with representatives from Land for Good, Dirt Capital, and Dawn2Dusk Farm.

2nd Annual Climate Underground
Oct 20-22

Agrarian Trust participated in the 2nd annual Climate Underground hosted by Caney Fork Farms in which farmers, chefs, activists, scientists, political leaders, researchers, and other leading experts shared knowledge on the economics of our current food system, food justice, the future role of restaurants in communities, the climate crisis, and how regenerative agriculture can be a solution.

New Opportunities for Agrarian Transformation

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