Land For Good (LFG) was founded in 2002 in Keene NH by Bob Bernstein and two partners. Its initial focus was on farm-related, community economic development projects. Kathy joined LFG in 2004 and served as co-director with Bob, until 2012. At that time Kathy became Executive Director and Bob went on to found the for-profit New England Farmland Access (NEFA), which pursues innovative community farmland access projects.
In 2006, LFG obtained its 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status, and shifted its focus to farmland access, tenure and transfer. We started with our Farm Legacy Program in response to our identification of a huge gap in services around farm succession planning. We developed our unique coaching approach to providing ongoing support and guidance to farm families in planning the transfer their farms to the next generation or owner.
We soon realized that working with transitioning farmers was only part of the solution. To more fully address the land access conundrum we also needed to reach and support non-farming landowners. Private, institutional and public non-farming landowners are critically important because of their role in making land available for farming. Nationally, nearly 90% of farm landlords are not farmers, and yet extremely little attention was being paid to their aspirations, needs, and concerns. We started our Working Lands Program in 2007 to serve these land stewards.
Increasingly, beginning and other farmers contacted us, looking for information and support around accessing land. Amidst the broad recognition of the need for more beginning farmers – and of their considerable challenges – we led the early call for targeted attention to land access and tenure for beginning farmers. Our Farm Seekers Program was launched in 2009 to help farmers get onto land through traditional and innovative methods.
Under Kathy’s leadership, LFG grew by hiring field staff to work in each New England state. As we deepened our work and collaborations in New England, we also increased our national leadership on these issues. We developed our “systems” perspective on these issues, strengthened our research and policy work and expanded our vibrant board of directors.
In 2013, Jim Hafner was hired as the Deputy Director as part of planned leadership succession strategy. Jim became Executive Director at the beginning of 2015. Kathy took on the role of Senior Program Director, while retaining her field agent role for southern New England. Since 2013 the Land For Good team has grown through hiring Andrew Marshall as Field and Education Director (2014), Cris Coffin as Policy Director (2015) and field agents Rachel Murray in Connecticut (2015), Cara Cargill in New Hampshire (2015) and Tess Brown-Lavoie in Rhode Island (2016).
Our 12 full- and part-time staff are distributed across the region. Nine have either operated farms, worked as farm laborers, and/or have formal agricultural training. Four currently maintain active farm businesses. Read more about our team. In just over a decade, due in part to the influence of LFG, land access, tenure and transfer have been widely recognized as top challenges for beginning, established and transitioning farmers. We are seen and sought after as key leaders and partners in our region and nationally.