New England’s young farmers have new opportunities as the majority of our region’s experienced farmers near retirement. And because our nation’s appetite for local and regional food continues to grow, it is more important than ever to cultivate opportunities for the farmers who will produce that food. Currently, 25 percent of farmers in the United States are over age 65, and only 5 percent of today’s farmers are under age 35.
Thanks to the Land Access Project (LAP), a New England-wide collaboration focused on farmland access, young farmers have a brighter future today, including clearer paths to acquiring farmland. More than two dozen individuals, organizations and agencies throughout the region have worked on LAP, which has been led by Land For Good, a regional nonprofit.
“Again and again, beginning farmers say that access to farmland is their biggest obstacle,” said Kathy Ruhf, Land For Good’s executive director. “The goal of LAP is to make farmland more available, affordable, accessible and secure for New England farmers, especially beginning farmers. To meet these challenges, the project works with farm seekers, retiring farmers and farmland owners of all types. We also reach out to service providers, civic leaders and policymakers.”
Since the project began in 2010, task forces have created several easy-to-use handbooks to educate farmers, service providers and non-farming landowners. Topics include transferring farms, making land available for farming, and gaining access to farmland:
LAP has also launched the New England Farmland Finder, a free, simple and searchable website that serves as a farm property clearinghouse for the region. Landowners and land managers can post available properties here: New England Farmland Finder
LAP-sponsored workshops throughout New England over the last 18 months have educated more than 200 farmers, landowners and agricultural service providers about legal, financial and practical aspects of acquiring and transferring farmland.
To learn more about the Land Access Project visit www.landforgood.org/LAP/index.html.