Cultivating Land for future generations
In so many countries land speculation has had devastating effects on family farms, the environment and opportunities for young farmers. By going beyond the marketplace, holding land in a non-profit trust and separating ownership from the right to use, land can be conserved in the commons on behalf of all New Zealanders and continue to be farmed by future generations.
The priority is to free certified biodynamic and organically farmed land out of the speculative economy. The Land Trust considers biodynamic Demeter certification to be the highest internationally recognised standard of agricultural integrity and productive resilience, while also acknowledging the efficacy and possibilities that exist within other regenerative methods.
1. To protect food-producing land from becoming an over-priced commodity, bought and sold in the global marketplace as a safe haven investment or for speculative purposes
Family farms are struggling with debt and rising costs. With so much capital tied up in a farm’s infrastructure there is little left over to invest in the business of farming. Many farmers feel they have no choice but to sell their land. Agriculture is fast moving away from being a multi-generational family pursuit where farms are inherited. Farmland worldwide, including here in New Zealand, is becoming part of corporate portfolios where shareholders often have little interest in protecting a farm’s ecological gains for future generations.
2. To provide a succession plan for organic farmers concerned about how their life’s work of ecosystem restoration and topsoil improvements may continue
Organic and biodynamic farmers have often spent many decades building quality soils, improving biodiversity, waterways and animal health, nurturing the environment and implementing practices that will provide for the welfare and resilience of future generations. The average age of farmers in New Zealand is over 60, and the question of who will take on the farm and continue to steward the land is a pressing one. Farmers with no succession options are often forced to sell their organic farms to real estate developers or agribusiness interests. These compromise the capacity of younger New Zealanders to get into farming, let alone find the capital to start a sustainable business. The Trust will make land available to a generation of young farmers and skilled growers without the financial means to purchase land. They will benefit from a leasehold arrangement based on the actual economic productivity of the land and from sharing economic responsibility and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) with consumers.
3. To build food security as a vital component of national security
The Land Trust will encourage the production of fresh, biodynamic/organic locally-grown food. It will also support people living in rural and urban areas explore ways to unite in support of the land and therefore their own long-term interests. The Land Trust will also support a variety of social arrangements around land such as community-supported agriculture (CSA), on-farm education, mentoring and social enterprises.