We believe that farmland access challenges require a comprehensive approach that seeks creative solutions at multiple levels. We have put this collaborative, systems approach into practice. We work on ‘on the ground’ assisting individual farmers, farm families and landowners, and also collaborate extensively with local, regional and national partners.
Selected Land For Good (LFG) projects are highlighted below under the following themes:
- Regional Systems Change
- Policy, Research and Investigation
- Special Population Farmers
- Professional Training
- Community Initiatives
- Land Access Training and Support
- Farm Transfer and Succession
Regional Systems Change
- Land Access Project (LAP) – Phase 1 (2010 –2013) and Phase 2 (2015-2018). This comprehensive project addressed the farmland access challenge for New England’s beginning farmers from a systems perspective. In Phase 1, over fifty service providers from six New England states collaborated in five task forces: Listing & Linking; Farm Transfer; Non-farming Landowners; Tenure Innovations, and; Coaching Services. Outputs included: a dozen workshops for non-farming landowners; a cross-training for farm transfer advisors; a regional online farm property clearinghouse and upgraded website of farm transfer services; and guides for exiting farmers, next generation farmers, and public and private landowners. Reports on policy innovations, farmland investors and agricultural easements translated research into practical recommendations for improving land access in our region. LAP Phase 1 resulted in improved services, coordination and communication about land access and transfer throughout New England. Phase 2 supports state networking activities to support education and direct service, and extends activities in the areas of listing and linking, tenure innovation, and farm succession. Phase 2 also includes a national conference on land access issues. LAP is supported by grants from the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. Read more about Phase 1 and Phase 2.
Policy, Research and Investigation
- Improving Public Policies for Land Access in New England (2015-present). In collaboration with American Farmland Trust and the Conservation Law Fund, this land access policy project explores and advances state policies in each New England state that foster land access and transfer. In year one (2015) convened leaders, conducted targeted research, developed actions plans, and supporting state stakeholder implementation. Over 80 stakeholders participated in 15 dialogues in six states and four cities to built greater awareness, expand relationships, identify challenges and develop consensus around policy priorities in four areas. Based on the policy matrix, we researched six priority policy topics and developed state action plans. Year two will continue to lead and support multi-stakeholder efforts to implement action plans that advance specific public policies at the municipal, state, regional and federal levels. Funded by The John Merck Fund.
- In the Gaining Insights, Gaining Access Project (2014-2016), LFG and American Farmland Trust gathered information about the trends, challenges and needs of farmers without successors, and about non-farming landowners. To improve outreach and services to these audiences we analyzed and presented to service providers and policy makers what we learned about and from these audiences through state-level briefing, webinars, and a regional and state specific profiles. Funded by The Claneil Foundation.
- Farmland Investment Research Project – Phase II (2014-present). A part of the Farmland Access Task Force of the VFAN Working group, LFG is leading the second phase of investigation of values-based farmland investor models. In this phase, selected farmers, farm finance advisors and attorneys will learn about several farmland investor entities that have – or would like to have – farm projects in New England. Farmers and investment group representatives will sit down together to dialogue about how these models can best benefit farmers and investors in our region. Read about and download the Phase I report. Funded by the Vermont Farm to Plate Network Fund.
- A national Non-Operator Landowner Project (2013-present) led by Utah State University and American Farmland Trust is researching non-operator landowners, with a particular focus on women farm landlords and their attitudes toward conservation. LFG serves on the Advisory Group of this project, and coordinated a focus group of women landlords in New England. Funded by Rachel’s Network, USDA/ERS and The Mosaic Company.
- The New England Food Policy Project report (2014) contains a section on land access in which LFG was a lead contributor to the research and writing. We co-led a webinar on land access and transfer as part of this project. Funded by the Henry P. Kendall Foundation.
- Farmland Access, Succession, Tenure and Stewardship (FarmLASTS) Project (2008 – 2010). Co-led by LFG and University of Vermont, this national project focused on farm access, tenure and succession. Over two-dozen collaborators including universities, agencies and NGOs from across the country worked in three national teams focused on research, curriculum development, and outreach in three areas: (1) farmland access and tenure for farm entrants; (2) farm succession challenges for exiting farm operators, and; (3) the impacts of tenure and succession arrangements on land use and the environment. An in depth research report concludes with extensive policy and program recommendations. Project outputs included a four-module educational curriculum, an Extension manual, and a national conference for leaders in the field. Funded by the USDA National Research Initiative. Read more on the FarmLASTS website.
Special Population Farmers
- In partnership with Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success (NH), we are delivering workshops in 2015 to Congolese, Bhutanese, Somali Bantu refugees as part of the New American Sustainable Agriculture Project, ORIS’ farmer incubator program.
- In partnership with Cultivating Community (Portland ME), we delivered a workshop and educational materials in 2012 to Somali and Sudanese immigrant farmers about land access, including how to find land and how to negotiate agreements. In 2015 we repeated and expanded this support to the immigrant farmers participating in the NASAP/Fresh Start Farms program. In early 2016, four Somali-Bantu farmers got established on a 30-acre farm in Lewiston with training, support and land search help from LFG and Maine Farmland Trust.
- LFG worked with Nuestras Raices (Holyoke MA) from 2011-2013 to deliver informational workshops, one-on-one assistance and a written guide about finding farmland for immigrant farmers on Nuestras Raices’ La Finca incubator farm in western Massachusetts.
To learn more about our work with immigrant and other special population farmers, contact us.
- Farmland for the Next Generation: Training Trainers to Help Beginners Secure Land and Succeed in Agriculture (2015 – 2018), LFG is one of several partners on a national project led by American Farmland Trust that will assess land access educational programming and train trainers to deliver a new land access curricula. A national project team will identify and evaluate land access training resources and gaps, then based on this, develop a “comprehensive national curriculum” to reach diverse audiences and regions. After field testing with a national cadre of two dozen agriculture educators, the The ultimate outcome is the foundation of a national network of land access training providers, and a comprehensive, widely available and adaptable curriculum. Funded by a grant from the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.
- Farmland Advisors Project (2012 – 2014). LFG partnered with the American Farmland Trust to provide professional training, materials and support around farmland access, farm succession and working with farmland owners. Webinars, fact sheets and two days of training (January 2014) were provided to 90 agriculture service providers in New England and New York. Participants represent land trusts, beginning farmer organizations, extension offices, lending institutions and local and state agencies. Funded by Northeast SARE Professional Development Program grant and a Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancment grant.
To learn more about our professional training and networking activities, contact us.
- Western Massachusetts Land Trusts and Working Lands (2008). LFG led a roundtable meeting and three workshops for western Massachusetts land trusts to promote land trusts’ involvement in working lands conservation projects. Funded by the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition.
To learn more about our work with land trusts and other conservation organizations, contact us.
- The Berkshire Farmland Initiative (2014-present), is a collaboration among LFG, The Carrot Project, and Berkshire Grown to address land access and transfer in Berkshire County (MA). LFG hosts the Initiative webpage, and has co-hosted farmer-landowners mixers. In April 2014, we keynoted and help design a county-wide Summit that grew out of a three-year agricultural planning effort in Berkshire county. With American Farmland Trust, the Initiative launched a fund to which farmers and landowners may apply to support their farmland-related plans and transactions. LFG participation is funded by in part by a grant from the Lawson Valentine Foundation and our donors.
- LFG is fostering farmland access in the Monadnock Region (NH) in collaboration with the Cheshire County Conservation District (CCCD), the Monadnock Conservancy and UNH Cooperative Extension (2014-16). Together we are learning from landowners and farmers about farming on conserved land and by hosting workshops for farmland owners. Funded by a grant from the USDA Northeast SARE Program.
- As part of the Franklin County (MA) Farm and Food System Project, LFG helped survey the county’s farmers on their needs, including around farm succession. We held land access and farm succession workshops and followed up with several dozen respondents who indicated a desire for succession planning assistance. Download the Project’s final report, which includes a project timeline and survey results. Funded in part by the H.P. Kendall Foundation.
- MAGIC Comprehensive Agricultural Planning Project (2012 –2013). LFG is a partner in this 13-town regional initiative led by the Metropolitan Area (Massachusetts) Planning Council, Consortium for Sustainable Communities. The Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination (MAGIC) enlisted LFG, Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation, Conservation Law Foundation and Sudbury Valley Trustees and thirteen eastern Massachusetts municipalities to increase the viability of farming and promote sustainable food sheds in the MAGIC sub-region. LFG helped design and conduct a municipal survey and regional forum, and wrote a report chapter with recommendation on land access, farm succession and farm leasing. Funded by US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- The Town of Middleborough, Massachusetts (2010 – 2011) contracted with LFG to develop strategies to retain the working farmland and rural character of the Thompson Street neighborhood as a heritage agricultural landscape. LFG assisted Thompson Street area farmers and farmland owners to bring or keep their land in active farming. Funded by the Town of Middleborough Planning Department.
- Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership’s (SEMAP) Farms Forever Project (2006 – 2009). As part of this project LFG conducted research on farm succession programs, and provided subsidized farm transfer planning services to 10 farmers in Southeast Massachusetts. Three “Where Do I Start…” guides were produced to assist farm seekers, transitioning farm families and landowners to take first steps. Funded by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program and a private foundation.
To learn more about our work with communities, contact us.
Land Access Training and Support
- Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association contracts with LFG (2011 – present) to provide education, assistance and support related to land access and tenure to participants in MOFGA’s Journeyperson Program. Our Maine field agent conducts workshops and extensive individual consulting to JourneyPersons preparing to acquire farmland. Funded by the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program and a private foundation.
- The Farm Leasing Project (2008 – 2012) educated over 400 farm seekers throughout New England using a variety of methods including workshops, web resources and direct technical assistance to farm seekers. We developed an online tutorial on farm leasing and a seven unit online course, Acquiring Your Farm. Funded by grants from the USDA Risk Management Education Program and the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Program.
- The Prairie Crossing Farm Incubator (2011 – 2013). LFG is partnered with the Liberty Prairie Foundation (LPF) to deliver five workshops and is consulting with farmers and Foundation staff on land access and non-traditional lease agreements. LPF sponsors Prairie Crossing Farm incubator in Grayslake, Illinois. Funded in part by USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.
- Land Tenure for Farmer Groups (2012 –2013). This project investigated alternative models such as group ownership and multiple farmer tenancy for farmers to jointly access land. Background and farmer interviews led to recommendations and webinars for farmers and service providers. In partnership with the Greenhorns and Cooperative Development Institute, and funded by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.
To learn more about our work on farm leasing and other alternatives to land ownership, contact us.
Farm Transfer and Succession
- Organic Farmer Transfer and Succession – Phase I (2015). LFG is giving the organic farm transition “conundrum” focused attention and support by investigating organic dairy farmers’ unique transition planning dilemmas and opportunities. Through discussion groups and interviews with organic dairy farmers in northern New England, we will develop better strategies to help farmers address farm succession. Read more on our blog. Supported by grants from Organic Valley’s Farmers Advocating for Organics Fund and the Clif Bar Family Foundation.
- Farm Transfer Network of New England (2006 – present). This project created a regional service network and supporting website that helps farm families find succession and transfer planning assistance and resources. LFG led this collaboration among six New England land grant universities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The project produced a searchable online directory of farm transfer advisors and materials. This initiative increased coordination among educators, advisors and other farm transfer service providers and advisors, and made services more visible in the region. Visit the FTTNE website.
- Transferring the Farm Workshops (2006 – 2010). This multi-year collaboration with Extension educators and others in all six New England states provided daylong workshops and follow-up technical assistance on farm transfer and succession. Funded by USDA Risk Management Agency and other funders. Read about the project in “New England Workshops Increase Participant Knowledge of Farm Transfer Issues” in the Journal of Extension (April 2009).
- Women and Farm Transfer (2006 – 2008). LFG partnered with the Cooperative Development Institute, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture and the Women’s Agricultural Network to address the particular challenges faced by women facing a farm transition. An educational curriculum and supporting resource binder were developed and delivered to 170 women in New England through seminars and learning circles. Partners also delivered a train-the-trainer workshop for educators, advisors and other service providers who work with farm women. Funded by the USDA Farm Service Agency.
To learn more about how we work with farm families and farm transfer advisors and educators, contact us.