The purpose of Biodynamic Land Trust is to enable permanent access to biodynamic farms and land for food growing for farmers, market gardeners and communities in Britain through securing land into biodynamic land trusteeship.
This begs the wider question, ‘What kind of sustainable future do we want for farming and food growing?’
We face such challenges as:
- A global land grab for food growing by large corporations and rich countries
- Famine from high food prices caused by speculation in food by hedge funds
- Growing concern about climate change, resource depletion, peak oil, food sovereignty and the need for more localized food systems
- A crisis in farming, as small and medium-sized family farms continue to go out of business
- The average age of farmers is increasing and farm incomes are decreasing
- Farmers are often isolated in fragmented communities and the costs of buying or leasing farms prevents entry to young farmers. Many have the skills and motivation but little capital
- The demand for good locally grown biodynamic and organic food increases and people want to re-connect with local farms and build sustainable rural communities, as evidenced by the rapid growth of CSAs in Britain
- Biodynamic farms have been lost because of inheritance and succession issues
- Young biodynamic farmers and food growers need land
So, it is vital to ensure that more land is farmed biodynamically and sustainably. The Biodynamic Land Trust will help realize our most desirable future for farming by securing and stewarding land for farmers and communities, land which produces quality biodynamic food both now and in the future.
Questions triggering the founding of the Biodynamic Land Trust
One reason for setting up the Biodynamic Land Trust is that farmers keep asking for help securing land. They heard about Fordhall Farm and the successful 2005-7 Community Farm Land Trust Action Research Project. Greg Pilley and Martin Large of Stroud Common Wealth carried out an action research project to pioneer community farmland trusteeship. The successful community buy out of Fordhall Farm in 2005-6 was the lead project. Since then, an increasing number of CSAs have been buying land and capitalising the farm business through community share offers, and the Soil Association has set up its own Land Trust for organic farms.
Biodynamic farmers ask questions such as, ‘How can we secure land for biodynamic food growing through land trusteeship? How can existing BD farmers ensure their farms keep biodynamic when they get too old to farm? Can a BD land trust help here? How can young biodynamic farmers get access to farms? How can communities help capitalise biodynamic farms? How can existing large-scale biodynamic farming organisations like Camphill preserve their farmland? Can you help us purchase BD farmland that we are currently leasing, but which the owners now want to sell?’
Given that inspiring biodynamic farms like Temple Wilton, New Hampshire, USA, (Yggrassil Land Trust) and Plaw Hatch and Tablehurst Farms with St Anthony’s Trust in Sussex helped pioneer farm land trusts, how can their learning inspire putting more acres into biodynamic farming through land trusteeship?
‘As third generation tenant farmers of Fordhall Farm, we see community farm ownership as the way to secure the land for continuing community benefit — for food growing, wildlife, access, enterprises, heritage, education activities and offering a ‘green lung’ to Market Drayton.’
Succession and inheritance questions?
Retirement offers the opportunity to hand ones life’s work on to continue the biodynamic farm story. Farmers and landowners committed to biodynamics and the stewardship of their farms can give them to the Biodynamic Land Trust. This can then lease the farm to suitable biodynamic farmers, which can include family members. Farm donors will be confident that their biodynamic farm continues, as the Biodynamic Land Trust will hold, manage and steward the land in perpetuity. Biodynamic and sustainable farming practice will continue for successive generations. And a stream of land will go into trusteeship, rather than be sold as a commodity on the market and lost to sustainable biodynamic farming.
Young biodynamic and entrant farmers
The Biodynamic Land Trust is keen to assist young biodynamic and entrant farmers to take a first step on the farming ladder by giving them access to land, skills and resources, and helping them develop viable businesses. We hope to develop an innovative range of land tenures and capital raising options, so that we can respond constructively to the particular needs of farms, farmers and communities.
Engaging people and communities
The Biodynamic Land Trust offers people and communities the opportunity to get engaged by investing in and giving to secure land, sometimes in partnership with Community Supported Agriculture schemes where appropriate. This will also mean that people can enjoy the countryside, understand the importance of food and farming, connect with the land and gain access to farms. The Biodynamic Land Trust offers a structure for involvement, where everyone can make a difference.