You may have missed this in the swamp of election news last week: In These Times published this excellent run-down of Agrarian Trust, the recent symposium, and the land use problems that challenge regional food systems.
“Increasingly, communities recognize that a regional farm economy is more responsive, adaptive, resilient and culturally satisfying,” says von Tscharner Fleming. “We want more diverse, more local, less thirsty, more prosperous regional food systems. It is in this context that we talk about land access for incoming farmers, about successful businesses, and about land transition for existing farms and retiring farmers, as well as mechanisms for restoration of degraded ecological features and infrastructures.”
This will be the second Agrarian Trust OUR LAND symposium, and once again we’ve got speakers from around the country and around the region focusing our attention, analysis, activism and collective agency on issues relevant to your regional foodshed.
This event is presented by Agrarian Trust and has a focus on Land access, land transition and the issues underlying ownership and management of the territory required for an autonomous and sovereign food system.
The central themes of this symposium center on land-use and governance regimes of the southwest region. We will learn about the acequias, a system of irrigation ditch commons brought by the Spanish. The history, management regimes and future prospects of this system represent a powerful curriculum for other commons-based systems. Can these ditch commons be explained to include their uplands and headwaters, or will ditch rights be lost to privatization and sold to developers?
You can learn about the work of the speakers at the event’s facebook page, where we’ve posted videos, articles, and links.
Speakers include: Mary Wood, Ruth Breach, Rick Prelinger, Kim Stringfellow, Sylvia Rodriguez, Allyson Siwik, Tezozomoc, Eric Holt-Gimenez, Miguel Santiestevan, Devon Pina, Stanley Crawford, and Alex Pino.
Artists include: Sharon Steward, Kim Stringfellow, Emily Volger, Ildi Carlise-Cummings, Kaitlin Bryson, Nancy Dewhurst, Erin Fussell, Bill Gilbert, Andrea Gohl, Ryan Henel, Catherine Harris, Jeanette Hart-Mann, Cecilia McKinnon, Sarah Molina, Hollis Moore, Hamshya Rajkumar, Kacie Smith, Molly Zimmer, Rachel Zollinger, and more!
OUR LAND 2 has a focus on the lessons of the acequia irrigation commons, a 400 year old system that supports dryland agriculture.
The Mojave Project is really just kind of the bomb-diggety. But don’t take our word for it: to learn more, we recommend this absolutely gorgeous video. The project is an “experimental transmedia documentary led by Kim Stringfellow exploring the physical, geological and cultural landscape of the Mojave Desert.” Browse the current projects here.
And while we’re talking about the Mojave Project, they’re asking you to
SAVE THE DATE!
WHAT: We pleased to send you this SAVE THE DATE announcement about our autumn program OUR LAND 2: Tracing the Acequia Commons, a series of talks, exhibits and happenings to advance the broadening discourse on land commons and farmland futures.
WHERE: New Mexico! Most events Free and open to the public.
WHEN: November 9-17th in close association with the Quivira Coalition and Biodynamic Association annual conferences, Agrarian Trust invites you to join us in fine company to approach topics of Public Trust, Acequia traditions and commons culture, emergent urban commons, water enclosures and new topographics; through lectures, documentary films, open archive exhibits and an walk along an Acequia irrigation ditch, flowing continuously for four centuries.
WHO: Mary Wood, Rick Prelinger, Kim Stringfellow, Tezozomoc, Devon Pena, Ruth Breach, Stanley Crawford, Wes Jackson, Emily Vogler, Ildi Carlisle-Cummins, Eric Holt Gimenez, Kate Levy… and more
Today, in incredibly awesome things made available by the internet, a new(ish) website called Vintage Aerial provides access to over 5 million photos, taken in 41 states over the second half of the twentieth century.
Looking to find an aerial photograph of a specific farm, homestead, or rural township? The librarians at the site are nearly positive that they can find it for you, and for no cost! Prints of the photographs are then made available.
Just looking to browse the visual rural history of this country? Many of the prints are available to view online— many accompanied by stories from current or previous owners.
Next week, in conjunction with its current exhibition Eyes on the Land, the Shelburne Museum in Vermont is holding a Working the Land Symposium. From 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Sunday, October 10, regional scholars will present on the histories, stories, archeology, and symbolism of the working landscapes of New England. These presentations will be followed by a panel discussion by the artists featured in the exhibition.
The United States is entering a period of significant land transfer; an estimated 400 million acres will change hands in the next 20 years as farmers retire and sell or pass on their land. This is equivalent in size to the Louisiana Purchase and represents half of the farmland in our country.
Running with a crowd of like-minded earthy hippy commie-pinko queer progressives doesn’t always teach one the skills necessary to defend her morals when they are challenged. Which is why I am a big advocate for teaching yourself how to argue points that may seem obvious but— for seemingly mysterious reasons— are not accepted by the population as a whole. Towards this goal, I’d like to share something with you.
This article, co-authored by Ecology Center staffers Leah Fesseden and Dani Gelardi, appeared fabulously in the Greenhorns email inbox last week and concentrates particularly on the historic exclusion of people of color, women, Native Americans, and other disenfranchised communities from access to agriculture land and capital.
We approach a period of time in which both 400 million acres is transitioning from old to new owners and the price of farmland continues to increase dramatically. The issue of barriers to land access is particularly salient. Briefly detailing 300 years of institutional racism, the authors argue that we need to be doing everything in our power to lower barriers to entry for beginning farmers— and particularly those that come from historically disadvantaged populations. They have three suggestions as how best of go about this:
Despite the brutish encroach of bailiffs and foresters, farming activists in the UK continue to squat the 40 acres of Yorkley Court Community Farm. Since 2012, forty or so residents have established a biodynamic farm and off-grid settlement of treehouses, greenhouses, and a “sphere of high energy improbability” in the Gloucestershire woodlands.
By all accounts, the rightful owners of the property died in the 1800s leaving no clear heirs to the land. The land had been largely neglected until 2012, when the activists set up shop. This past year, the solicitor trustees sold the land out from under them to a local business man who’d like to evict the residents of Yorkley Court and develop the woodland. Residents have no intention to yield to pressure to leave.
“Many protest sites see people parachute in for a purpose, the land isn’t quite so important,” says resident and unofficial spokesperson Frank White, “We have a connection to the land, one which is shared with the community. We’re taking unused land and living off grid. We’re not anti-this, or anti-that, we’re creating a new form of society, one that is healthy, one that can survive.”
In this Reel to Real mini-series, the Brower Center and the Agrarian Trust explore the future of American farmland and farmers. In these two fascinating documentaries, audiences will encounter a first-generation farming couple who left the urban areas of their youth to found a biodynamic dairy (Brookford Almanac) and a lifelong rancher turned “eco-cowboy” (Hanna Ranch). These films allow us to explore issues of land access, land care, and land transition. Afterwards, engage in discussion with producers and stakeholders of these films.
In San Francisco, from April 25-28, 400 people from across the country and around the world gathered to discuss an awkward problem – land reform in America. Land reform is a loaded term, one that reeled conference participants’ imaginations toward the antics of Third World dictators and communist zealots. It’s hard to conceive a more un-American activity than thinking about an alternative to private property. Yet here were the Friends of the Earth next to the NAACP west coast region, alongside the Archdiocese of Kansas doing exactly that.
That was in 1973.
Forty-one years later to the day, a similar group is gathering in San Francisco, to discuss Our Land. I wish I were able to be there, but here’s a little of what I’d have liked to have said.
If the efforts of the conference planners are successful, then the majority of 2014 conference attendees won’t have been born when the last one happened. It’s a good thing that there’s a great deal of youthful energy around messing with private property. The young are less enamoured of capitalism than the old, and less horrified by socialism. It might even be that the participants at the Our Land summit identify as more politically radical than the summit before them. After all, the Archdiocese of Kansas isn’t famed for its scorn of capital.
But the 1973 summit has much to teach the young contrarian. Have a look at the documents produced through the conference. They’ve been tended by Peter Barnes formerly of The New Republic and are available here and in the excellent The People’s Land. Reading them, the historical continuities are striking.