Date of Award
The number one challenge facing young farmers is access to land. Other challenges include rising student debt, high real estate values, health insurance costs, and discriminatory lending practices. As well, there are rising concerns that farm viability and the agricultural landscape of the US is in peril as the sector sees an "aging" farmer population, loss of farmland to development, and a decrease in the number of mid-sized "family" farms alongside a proliferation of very large industrial farms that dominate markets. Farms do more than just provide food to their communities; they are a cornerstone of rural economies and play an important role in providing ecosystem services and combatting climate change. Land trust organizations use land conservation tools to make farmland more affordable for farmers, which, in turn, helps to maintain our working landscapes. In light of expectations that up to 300 farms will be changing hands in the next 10 years in Vermont, this project (a collaboration with Vermont Land Trust [VLT]), used Participatory Action Research to engage farm seekers in a survey and focus group sessions to explore the characteristics, needs, knowledge, and barriers of farmers looking to access land through VLT. From the analysis of the qualitative data, the findings offer a set of recommendations at the organizational, community, and systemic level around how VLT can work to make farmland transitions that positively impact the sustainability, equity, regeneration, and viability of Vermont farmland.
Baxley, Susanna, "The Working Landscape: Vermont Land Trust and Farmland Access in Vermont" (2021). Food Systems Master's Project Reports. 15.