One of the things we are learning both from this Gruntvig work (including specifically from Terre de Liens the French small farm land trust) and from our experience here in the UK is the value of setting up regional groups.
These values include:
- Raising the awareness of how land has become an commodity and financial investment tool for people with money
- How this in turn makes farming land, whether to buy or rent, unaffordable for sustainable farming and entrant farmers
- Making the public more interested/aware of local organic and biodynamic food as a possibility with low food miles
- Energising potential projects in an area – one often has to move fast to make an offer when farms come up for sale
- All of this can become a virtuous circle that improves the local economy and makes more of a local community
We realise that if we can have regional groups we will be able to be far more pro-active and responsive when there are opportunities to buy land or when young farmers want to get established as there will be a kernel of potential support and community already present in the area concerned.
Regional groups can take many forms and can be initiated by one person or a few working together. They can be started by someone interested in sustainable food, or biodynamics or by someone who is a grower/farmer looking to have their own place or share with another grower/farmer.
If there are enough people interested the BDLT could run a workshop on this and on group and financing structures and create a sharing space for people who are engaged in this already. This might also usefully be linked to the CSA (community supported agriculture) movement.
It does not need to be all about money there are many ways of finding land for growing food – another aspect we have learnt more about on our Gruntvig sessions – using public spaces for vegetables rather than only flowers, land sharing, renting relatively small areas from bigger farms and so on.
If you are interested in knowing more or getting a regional or local support group going in your area, do contact Martin or me.