Monday, 28 September 2009

Sustainable agriculture and the land question - some notes

For sustainable agirculture to be developed it is key that newcomers to farming have access to land. Land access is a major barrier for young people who want to work in sustainable agriculture not being able to establish their own farms. Collective access to land can overcome some of the difficulties related to land access.

A problem that existing sustainable farms are facing is that, if they have to be sold, it is likely that they will not be maintained under sustainable agricultural practices, and therefore much of the benefits built up during sustainable management are lost again (such as built up soil fertility). Therefore it is important that land keeps under sustainable production methods into the future, regardless of who farms it. Group ownership of land can help resolve this, with contracts that assure that the land is kept under sustainable management, regardless of who the farmer is at a particular moment.

Examples of community connected agriculture are some CSA farms. The land is owned by shareholders who cooperate with the farmer to define production and management practices and receive a share of the harvest. One view put forward is that of a large farm, with a number of employees, that is owned collectively by the nearby community, which it feeds and to which it provides environmental services and leisure ammenities.

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