By Rachel Murray, CT Field Agent, Land For Good.
Kathy Ruhf and I presented at the NOFA Summer Conference recently on land access issues. The audience was a nice mix of beginning farmers with varying levels of experience, farmers actively looking for land to purchase and/or lease, and landowners from private owners to land trust Executive Directors to name a few.
Together 1000 participants built upon the 42-year NOFA Summer Conference tradition of exploring solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing us, from climate change to racial inequity, land access and beyond, with this year’s theme “A Passion for Solutions.”
Land access is a rich topic that could be a conference all on its own. We had a packed audience of participants that showed a lot of interest and engagement in the land access presentation. Kathy began the conversation about land tenure and what that phrase actually means. Then she led the audience down the path of the various types of tenure models including owning and leasing while giving an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of each. Leasing is a very in-depth topic that has many discussion points, examples of, variations, and models, so with the time frame of this presentation we only were able to touch the most important parts. The Land For Good website has examples of leases and more in depth information available for free and download.
The next part of the presentation was about assessing farmland and making sure the buyer or renter is properly informed about and asks the right questions before making a decision about a property. Rachel went over several topics and questions that should be asked or considered about the farmland, its current and past use, the community support for farming, and natural resource base to name a few. Finally the presentation ended on various ways to actually find farmland that may include state linking websites, New England Farmland Finder, local land trusts, and other avenues, as well. Please check out the Land For Good website for more detailed information.
It is a pleasure to present at the NOFA Summer Conference. Meeting the different farmers, landowners, and supportive community members with their compelling stories about farming, land access, and more, show us every year why the work we do is important and critical to a sustainable approach for secure farmland in New England.