We were thrilled to be included in this excellent article on Truthout! Here’s a short except and link to the full article.
“Ensuring reliable, long-term land access is a critical piece of the puzzle that requires fresh thinking, given the extreme consolidation of land ownership in the U.S. and the inflated costs of buying land due to development-driven and financial speculation.
Agrarian Trust, a nonprofit committed to supporting land access for the next generation of farmers, is experimenting with community-controlled land commons to collectively and democratically own the land, while giving 99-year leases to regenerative farmers. This model prioritizes broader community involvement and investment in local farms, while giving farmers long-term land security and equity interests so that they can fully commit to restoring the land over many decades.
“What would it look like to have a commons of permanent organic farming?” Asks Fleming, who is also on the board of Agrarian Trust. “In France now they have a 6,000-acre commons, of permanently affordable, permanently organic farmland … and I think we need one here.”
Whether or not a land commons model could quickly and effectively be brought to a regional, state or national scale is an open and urgent question. It is likely that we will need multiple approaches to overcome the central challenge of land access, including a strong backstop of public land ownership, with long-term or lifelong leases that include equity-building opportunities given to new regenerative farmers.
The fact that the age of the average U.S. farmer is around 60 years old and that about 400 million acres of farmland are already expected to change hands in the next 20 years only reinforces the importance of getting this transition right.”