Land for the Landless

I have for a long time felt guilty about the under utilization of my land.  I have a few small farm enterprises going but there is so much more that could be done with this fertile well-drained soil.  Land is expensive and is usually the main deterrent to young farmers looking for a place to settle and start their farm enterprise.

Recently I had the USDA out to look over my land and give me some advice on future projects.  Which land to continue to clear, where to put the farm pond, what to let go back to woodlot etc etc.  What I don’t have is the time, energy, or labor to carry out these projects by myself.

I have an acquaintance that is forming a network to  pair up people looking for land to farm with people who have tillable land they want to share.  It is a great idea.  It allows young farmers to have land to farm while providing the landowner with whatever it is that they feel they need to get out of the bargain.   The thinking is that this gives the young farmers land to grow veggies or whatever they choose. They can sell their produce and make a living, learn the ins and outs of running a farm business and maybe be able to save some $$ toward buying their own land.  The landowner gets maybe some minimal rent or shared labor or something in exchange for contributing the land to the enterprise.

There are landless farmers all over the world.  There are also movements attempting to help.  In developing countries they have started occupying and farming land that is supposedly “owned” by large absentee landholders.   This is happening especially in South and Central America and in Africa.  Sometimes with violent results.

One group working with displaced farmers is Via Campesina.  This is a group that Food for Maine’s Future networks with on a fairly regular basis.   All of these efforts are moves in the right direction.  Making productive land productive in the most sustainable,  human scaled way.

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