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Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for coming to our Frequently Asked Questions page!
This page is most helpful read with the “What is a Farmland Commons” and “Why is a Farmland Commons important” pages.

How does land come into the Farmland Commons?

  • Land either comes into a Farmland Commons through donation, or through discounted, bargain sale from appraisal value, at which time a fundraiser is launched in collaboration with the local community.

  • Land either comes into The Farmers Land Trust or other 501(c)(3) first, and is then transferred into a Farmland Commons which is a 501(c)(2) or 501(c)(25) entity which is legally connected to the nonprofit(s), at no-cost and with restrictions that ensure land is solely used for purposes of Farmland Commons.

2

What is needed to start a Farmland Commons?

  • 3-5 people who are willing and able to serve on founding nonprofit board

  • An aligned in-state attorney willing to learn more and engage

  • A defined and viable land project with a landowner who is open to discuss commitment to enter into transfer agreement

3

What is the best way to begin conversations with landowners?

  • Ask them what their goals and vision for land are and listen and take notes

  • Contact The Farmers Land Trust to discuss strategy and next steps

4

What is the best way to find land opportunities?

  • Through existing relationships and word-of-mouth

  • Through developed and cultivated relationships with landowners achieved through strategic exploration of appropriate and aligned land opportunities found through research of local town or county GIS and assessing database and direct outreach to landowners to invite conversation and share your vision and goals

  • Through conversations, sharing of clear vision and goals, listening and gaining understanding of their connection to the land and their goals for legacy and their own future

When / where does this work best?

  • This model can be applied anywhere within the US

  • This model can be utilized in both rural and urban settings. 

  • This model is only possible where there is ability, capacity, and willingness to collaborate  

  • This model is only possible where there is is values alignment with the Farmland Commons

  • This model works best when it can be applied to a farmer or farming community that already has the skills and knowledge to grow food and just need secure land access. 

  • This model works best when there are already farm, food, and community partners to collaborate and support other farmer and farm business needs that the Farmland Commons model does not provide

  • This model works best on farmland where infrastructure already exists, but can be used for raw farmland, too.

  • This work is only possible where the is aligned and willing landowner who is willing to actively participate in transitioning land into the Farmland Commons to be held in perpetuity for regenerative, chemical-free, organic and/or biodynamic agriculture.

6

What are the benefits to holding land in a Farmland Commons 501(c)(2) or 501(c)(25) structure versus holding land in a 501(c)(3) structure?

  • A 501(c)(25) brings together multiple 501(c)(3) nonprofits, providing more resiliency and support and strength and resources to land and the stewards of that land and in a way that forms legal collaboration narrowly focused on land

  • 501(c)(3)'s can be hyper local, but most times are focused beyond a specific land location. 501(c)(3)'s also have mission and focus that vary and are multiple with programmatic, education, community, and other areas of focus and activities beyond land title holding and lease tenure conveying

  • The 501(c)(25) or 501(c)(2) is local to land and is limited in scope to only holding land, managing and stewarding land, and conveying lease of land to others. Meaning that ownership and control is within local communities connected to the land, and that decisions and scope are solely focused on the land.

  • In the 501(c)(25) model, the lease holders (could be an individual, or a nonprofit, or an LLC, or others), is on the board of the 501(c)(25) that owns the land, giving the person/people closest to that land a voice and power in the decision-making over that land.

  • The legal structure of a 501(c)(25) or 501(c)(2) does not allow for the board to interfere with those on the land giving leaseholders more autonomy and independence than they would have if the land was owned by just a 501(c)(3).

7

Who owns infrastructure on land within the Farmland Commons model?

  • Infrastructure purchased by or with Commons funds are owned by the commons

  • Infrastructure purchased by or with lessee funds are owned by the lessee 

  • How this works is determined by the needs of the farmland commons, the local community, the farmer and the land. Infrastructure can also be owned one way to begin with, and then can be owned different ways down the line and into the future.

8

What roles does/can The Farmers Land Trust provide?

  • As a land trust: We focus on the communications, outreach, and engagement, the fundraising and development, the real estate due diligence and transactions, and development and incorporation of local Farmland Commons (501(c)(25)s and as alternative 501(c)(2)s), and the relationships and networks needed to manifest the Farmland Commons.

  • As a resource:  We provide limited and fee-for-service support to communities/people/orgs interested in learning more and doing more around land transitions, creative land access and tenure, and land legacy

  • As a movement: We engage in communications, outreach, presentations, and modeling to raise awareness, provide learning, and create inspiration:

    • Viable and equitable land access 

    • Community-centered decommodified land ownership and tenure

    • Shared ecological stewardship

    • Models of farmland commoning

    • A new and innovative model for farmland ownership and tenure

9

What are the benefits to a farmer in leasing land owned by a Farmland Commons?

  • Farmers get affordable, equitable, long-term, secure access and tenure to land in a way that gives them autonomy and independence on the land, while bringing multiple people and organizations together to support the land, the farmer, and the economic viability of the farming enterprise(s).

10

What are the benefits to land owner in transferring land to a Farmland Commons?

  • Donating your farmland, farm, or other real estate for food, agriculture, community, ecosystem health, farm business viability and land justice through the Farmland Commons is one of the most impactful and transformative legacies a person can leave to the future.

    Gifting farmland, farm, or other real estate to the Farmland Commons to decommodify the land and place it in community control to be used for regenerative agriculture by people who would not be able to have access and tenure to land otherwise is a powerful way to create systematic change that benefits land, people, and Earth.
    There can be significant tax benefits to a full or partial land donation, and there are many creative ways in which we can work with you to transfer your land while still giving you the relationship with the land that best benefits you and your family and community.

11

What inspired the Farmland Commons?

  • The understanding that we are disconnected from the land, that our connection with land and food is the foundation for so much, and a belief that using land trusts and other legal structures and tools in new ways could help to address these issues.

  • The belief that conservation land trust and community land trusts do great work and that there is need for innovations and evolution of those models to create commons land trusts to focus on community-centered control interconnected with regional and national supports 

  • The belief that the Community Supported Agriculture model needs to innovate and evolve to address farmland ownership, tenure, and equity

  • The belief that we need a new model that addresses farmland and brings equity, autonomy, capital, and ownership back to the communities, farmers, and the land

12

Can the commons own equipment?

  • Ideally equipment is owned privately or by the lessee, but the commons could purchase or receive donation of and acquire and own equipment 

  • How this works is determined by the needs of the farmland commons, the local community, the farmer and the land. Equipment can also be owned one way to begin with, and then can be owned different ways down the line and into the future.

13

Where does funding come from?

  • Funding comes from a combination of grants and public sources, philanthropic donations (both land and cash), and investment capital from mission-aligned investors, donor advised funds, and crowdfunding campaigns.

Don’t see your question answered here or anywhere else on the website? Feel free to contact us for more information!

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