Access to Land Network Annual Assembly

Prague, November 2023

The 2023 Access to Land Network Annual Assembly took place in Prague in early November. It was a meeting of inspiring people and organisations, and a learning opportunity for everyone involved.

Access to Land Network is a European wide network of organisations, established in 2012. The member organisations work together to strengthen practical knowledge – on both problems and solutions – in the field of access to land for agroecological farmers. The network thereby aims to promote the emergence and consolidation of grassroots initiatives, working towards securing access to land and land stewardship, as well as fostering a broader evolution of national and EU policies and regulations on land use and management. The network comprises about 15 member organisations from across Europe, including the Biodynamic Land Trust, Soil Association Land Trust, and the Real Farming Trust from the UK.

The BD Land Trust has been a part of the Access to Land Network since the start in 2012 joining in first with a Gruntvig funded project Working with this network and divers organisations has afforded us much learning on many fronts: stewardship agreements, food networks, diversity in CSAs, on-farm training approaches and much more.

The annual assembly brought the network members together in Toulcův dvůr in Prague – a former farm turned into an educational land-based work centre with a learning farm and market garden, forest kindergarten and equestrian therapy facilities. Over two meeting days we had the opportunity to learn about each other’s organisations, our successes and challenges, and discuss the global and European situation regarding agriculture and access to land.

This year’s gathering placed a special emphasis on working with local authorities in our various countries, as well as advocacy work, both nationally and internationally. Alice Martin-Prével from our partner organisation in France, Terre de Liens, spearheaded the conversation about working with local authorities, and about the challenges and rewards of doing so. The conversation was rich and varied, as there were representatives present from organisations from France, Ukraine, Spain, Romania and beyond.

After a day and a half of stimulating workshops, workgroup meetings and discussions, the group was treated to an outing to the outskirts of Prague to see how Prague city supports sustainable food production and nature conservation in its territory. We visited a new project combining community food growing with allotment-style land use, met the people involved and heard about the ups and downs of working with and getting funding from the city. We also visited a small dairy project, on municipal land, run by a young family. It was encouraging to see that the city of Prague is placing emphasis on local agroecological food production and supporting new entrant farmers with land, funding, and advice.

It was incredible to learn about the situations in different countries, and how national policies encourage and/or hinder the work of organisations working with access to land. The Biodynamic Land Trust is grateful to be a part of such a capable and inspiring network of organisations and we are looking forward to our future work together.

Mari-Liis Nukis, Land Projects and Development Officer

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