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Belonging to land

Is it that we want land to belong to us?

Or is it more that we need land to belong to.

For many of us, the need to connect with land is deep, innate. Without land to belong to, we have no home. It is a necessity for our wellbeing.

Perhaps on some level we remember the time long, long ago when land did not belong to any person and our ancestors did not travel more than 10 miles from their birthplace in their entire lives. Not so long ago, my grandparents told me that they and their parents would only travel further than they could walk on the annual village day out to the seaside, which was 15 miles from home. It was common then to be born and to die in the same house.

I think we can imagine what it would be like to belong somewhere when we return to the outdoor places where we played as children. For most of us, these places have a magic even as adults. In our mobile and flexible lifestyles now, we are somehow adrift.

Some farmers, especially those on family farms that have been there for generations, do still belong to a place. This might contribute to their suicides when the farming is no longer tenable – there is nowhere else to go.

Land Trusts might help heal and anchor us again. We cannot afford to buy land by ourselves but if we do it together we can find land to belong to that will never be lost. The serious commitment asked of us to make this possible is proportionate to the marriage we are making. We contribute a significant amount of money and take responsibility for the long term care of the land and thereafter we have a place to belong to.

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