Access to farmland for the next generation of farmers looks like it’s lining up to be the most pivotal issue facing agriculture today. Consider this question: “How can young farmers, almost universally cash-poor and yet who have such energy and vision for a re-invented, sustainable and localized food and farm system in the U.S. even get started when land costs are rising, the resource base of arable land is shrinking and start-up costs are steep?” This upcoming symposium has the promise of being a gathering where some real, practical and paradigm-shifting solutions to questions like this will be identified and described.
I say this because of who is behind the organizing effort, namely, The Schumacher Center for a New Economics which is the organizational and philosophical heir of the E. F. Schumacher Society that was based in Great Barrington, MA.
E.F Schumacher was the visionary economist who wrote the book “Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered ” way back in 1973 because he saw the train wreck coming and had the economics chops to describe an alternative track. Sadly, not enough people heeded his warning or embraced his proposals. But some folks did. The E.F. Schumacher Society was instrumental in not only developing the concepts for local currencies, community land trusts, and micro-lending programs, they assisted communities to implement them.
Now, in its new incarnation as the Schumacher Center for New Economics, you can bet the concepts and proposals that will be discussed at this symposium will be the ones to manifest in your community. Since most of us won’t be able to attend, they will be uploading podcasts of the proceedings (see below).
We are talking nothing less than land reform right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Pay attention and act!
Agrarian Trust, a program of the Schumacher Center for New Economics, is pleased to announce the schedule for our 2014 Symposium:
OUR LAND: a Symposium on Farmland Access in the 21st Century.
April 26 + 27, Berkeley CA
Wheeler Hall (UC Berkeley) and the David Brower Center
In the next 20 years, an estimated 400 million acres of farmland will change hands as 70% of current farmland owners retire. Meanwhile, entering farmers struggle to compete with non-farming landowners for access to prime farmland, particularly in peri-urban areas. This dilemma of farmland succession is shared by Greyhairs and Greenhorns alike, who all hope for a more sustainable and resilient farming future.
We will examine this imminent inflection point from historical, ecological and political economy perspectives, and address both practical and philosophical approaches to transition. With both national and international speakers joining to reflect on this topic, we expect a full room and a lively convening of stakeholders.
Please join us on April 26 + 27 for a conversation about farmland access and transition.
This event is presented in partnership with Chelsea Green Publishing, The David Brower Center, Berkeley Food Institute, California FarmLink and Roots of Change.
All lectures will be recorded as podcasts for farmers and others who cannot make it in person. To get the lectures please join our email list.
Please read up on the event details and reserve your ticket today at: www.agrariantrust.org/symposium.
Thank you for sharing this announcement widely.
Severine v T Fleming, Managing Co-Founder, Agrarian Trust
Kristen Loria, Events Coordinator, Agrarian Trust