Giving a talk on Land Trusts at 10.30pm in the middle of Milan on Friday 25th March was an unusual experience!
As a director of Stroud Common Wealth, I was invited to Berlin in October 2010 and then 24-26th March to Milan Polytechnic to present land trusts to a networking conference of Experiment City Europe. This is a new European platform for co-housing, to share learning and action for cooperative, collaborative, collective and sustainable housing cultures. (See www.wohnportal-berlin.de and www.experimentcity.net)
I learnt that land trust ideas and practises are spreading, and met Rolf Novy-Huy of Stiftung Trias, who has been pioneering a land trust in Germany for a range of innovative community, social business and housing projects. Trias buys the land and the leases it for 99 years to viable projects. Each cooperative project is another building block in laying the foundations for a sustainable society. Rolf sees important challenges facing us such as how to develop non-speculative land uses and how to conserve fertile land resources, not to mention the global land grab. (www.stiftung-trias.de)
So we discussed how to spread the land trust learning and how we can develop our ideas, values and methods. Small organisations like Trias and the embryonic Biodynamic Land Trust are hardly yet able to deal with the potential need for land for sustainable solutions locally, let alone on a European wide scale. However, working in networks helps to exchange knowledge, share ideas, develop new ways of doing things, develop partnerships and strengthen solidarity.
So we agreed to organise a learning exchange, probably to be held in Stroud, Britain. This will be very helpful for the BLT, as we can invite a variety of bodies working to develop farm land trusts in the UK and across Europe such as Terre de Liens in France, and the Stiftung Edith Maryon from Basle.
One key question will be how best to raise capital for biodynamic land purchase from gifts, shares and loans-how to make the most of our resources?