top of page

2023 Year End “Review”: The Farmland Access Hub

By Bonnie Warndahl, Renewing the Countryside


Sometimes this work feels brutal. We work so hard to help farmers and to change the climate in the world of farmland access, with the end goal of protecting and strengthening healthy local food systems—but it often feels like the deck is stacked against all of us. Many of the most significant barriers are deeply rooted and slow to change. Take policy, for example. It could be years before we see substantial change in existing policies—and the implementation of new ones—that would provide more protections to farmland and support to transitioning and emerging farmers. Unfortunately, we don’t have very many years to turn this ship around. Farmland is disappearing now. The ageout group of producers needs to be replaced now.


These worries can get us down and make us lose sight of the work we have accomplished, so I thought highlighting some of this year's successes would give us a boost and help us march into 2024 feeling inspired.



Infographic by Catie DeMets, Renewing the Countyside


Landseekers Share Their Stories


In January, five immigrant farmers from the Global Greens LSI farm shared their stories and dreams of connecting with permanent land access at the Practical Farmers of Iowa Conference. Sessions also included discussions about fair rental rates for horticulture farmers, beginning farm transitions, and land trusts in Iowa.  


Hub Website Launch 


In February, the Farmland Access Hub website went live. The site provides links to useful resources, articles, and other land access-related media, intake forms for landseekers and transitioning farmers, and this monthly newsletter. 


Practical Farmers of Iowa Beginning Farmer Summit


Also in February, Farmland Access Navigators presented several sessions at Practical Farmer’s Beginning Farmer Summit, including helping beginning farmers getting ready for land andHelping land owners think about the steps towards land transitions. Landowners and landseekers also participated in networking opportunities to better understand the dynamics of land access.


Marbleseed Organic Farming Conference 


Speaking of the Marbleseed conference, Renewing the Countryside staff presented to a large and engaged audience on the inner workings of the Farmland Access Navigator program. The session concluded in breakout groups which allowed landseekers an opportunity to brainstorm some of the challenges or fears they might experience in negotiating a contract with a landowner. 


Later that afternoon we brought together landowners and landseekers for a facilitated discussion and networking. About 20 landseeking farmers and 5 landowners attended. The conversation provided opportunities for both groups to learn about the particular needs and challenges of the other and was overall a success.


New Navigators!


In March, eight new Navigators started training for Minnesota and Wisconsin.


Farm Transition Meet & Greets


On April 8, 2023 the Engaging Landowners working group hosted the first of five formal meet & greets to provide farmers with opportunities for learning and connecting about land use. The original event in Spring Valley, Wisconsin drew nearly 50 participants who learned about The  Hub and about resources from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Compeer Financial. Facilitated discussions revealed some of the goals and fears of both groups and a farm tour following the event opened up opportunities for a local landowner to connect with farmers in the region seeking land access. 


The event was replicated in September with four more meet & greets held in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Organizers from the Engaging Landowners group were able to present on the successes and challenges of these events at the Farmland Summit in November. 


Land Access Network Collaboration 


The Iowa Food System Coalition finalized their Food System Plan, which includes collaborations with the nonprofits working toward land access and food systems across Iowa.  This plan includes key strategies for land tenure, focusing on ways to develop financial and land tenure opportunities, farmer and landowner education, and a food farmer friendly administration. Their work will continue into 2024 to implement the plan, and foster meaningful land access opportunities across the state. 


Wisconsin Hub Steering Committee


In June the first Wisconsin Hub Steering Committee was held. The Committee, made up of Hub partners in Wisconsin, met monthly over the summer and fall to identify farmland access challenges specific to Wisconsin. The first task the committee tackled is starting a Policy Working Group to address the farm bill and the lack of supportive legislature for emerging and transitioning farmers in the state. 


The Farmland Summit


I think it’s still fresh on everyone’s mind as we continue to debrief from the Upper Midwest Farmland Summit—the most substantial farmland access conference in our region. Conversations that occurred during and after the Summit are already shaping the direction of the work in our quad-state area. 


Navigator Reach


Grant reporting for the Navigator program just wrapped up in November and I thought it worth sharing this graph created by RTC staff member Jody Padgham to illustrate just how impactful this program has been! Since 2018 Navigators have interacted with over 2600 farmers, 468 of whom became ongoing clients. The rise in farmers reached and assisted directly correlates with the number of Navigators out in the field. 




LSP Seeking Land Access & Emerging Farmer Policy Working Group Members!


By Amanda Koehler, Land Stewardship Project

 

I'm excited to share that the Land Stewardship Project will be launching a holistic Land Access and Emerging Farmers Policy Campaign to make our communities in the Upper Midwest the best places to start a farm! This campaign will advance solutions across the policy landscape, with the top priorities being:


  1. Reforming local ordinances that create barriers for multi-family and multi-generational farms.

  2. Creating new and reforming existing programs that assist beginning and emerging farmers with access to land, capital, training, and other vital resources through Minnesota state policy and the next federal Farm Bill.

  3. Creating a fellowship program through the state of Minnesota for aspiring farmers to get hands-on farming and farm business management skills while being paid a living wage that is subsidized by the state of Minnesota for small and mid-sized farms.


To design and implement the strategy for this work, LSP is forming a 9 to 12-person Land Access & Emerging Farmer Policy Working Group. You would be a strong fit for this working group if you are committed to expanding the number of farmers on the land, pushing back against the consolidation of land and capital in our farm and food system, building a multiracial and economically just farm and food system and rural communities, and building the people power we need to transform our farm and food system. We're particularly looking for farmworkers and aspiring farmers, beginning and emerging farmers, retired or transitioning farmers, non-operating landowners, and ag professionals, along with folks who bring policy, organizing, and social justice experience and expertise.

 

We are asking for a one-year commitment (January to December 2024) from each of the members on this committee, with the opportunity to continue further if able/desired. We expect this commitment to be approximately three hours per month, but busier in the first half of the year.

 


  • Core responsibilities for working group members.

  • Our goals for creating a diverse committee of folks from throughout the Upper Midwest across race, gender, age, geography, immigration status, role in the farm and food system, and relationship to land ownership.

  • Stipends for Black participants, Indigenous participants, and participants of color.

  • Areas of experience, expertise, and passion we seek.

  • How this working group differs from LSP's Land Access and Land Legacy Steering Committee.

Please check out the working group description and consider applying and/or forwarding this e-mail to someone you think would be a good fit!

 

Applications are due at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, January 7.


Thank you, Lakewinds Food Co-op!



Renewing the Countryside has once again been chosen as a Lakewinds Round Up recipient during August, 2024. Donations to RTC through Lakewinds Round Up are used to fund farmland access work, including work through the Farmland Access Hub. Shoppers at Lakewinds’ three stores will have the option to round up their bill to the nearest dollar and can also donate their 5¢ reusable bag credits to RTC instead of taking it off the bill. 


This will be the fourth year RTC has been selected for this generous program. We would like to thank Lakewinds for this continued support which positively impacts farmers and food systems in our region. 


Do you know of other businesses or entities who might support this work? Let us know or share this information with them! 


Welcome Back Nou Thao to the Farmland Access Navigator Cohort!



Welcome back to Nou Thao, who has returned to the Farmland Access Navigator program in Wisconsin! Nou, formerly a Navigator with Rooted Wisconsin, has re-joined the Navigator cohort via her new position with Marbleseed. 


Nou is an educator, an advocate, and community organizer. Food is a woven fabric of who she is. She is passionate in bridging communities through food and storytelling—working to increase food justice and land sovereignty. She has been involved with community gardens since a young child, first volunteering as an interpreter between HMoob and English growers, then on payroll and now back to volunteering to help support, train, and manage community gardens in Dane County. She grew up on the eastside of Madison. Agriculture and vegetable growing is an ongoing legacy she and her family has cultivated for generations.


Follow Us On Social Media!


The Farmland Access Hub has a new Facebook and Instagram and we could use your help growing these pages! Social media remains a powerful tool for networking and information sharing. Please follow us, like, and share at:

facebook.com/farmlandaccesshub and @farmlandaccesshub 


Summit Media Coverage


Hungry for more Summit coverage? Check out these Agweek articles by reporter Noah Fish!


















Ducheneaux made a strong and positive impression on participants at the 2023 Upper Midwest Farmland Summit. Photo by Sara George.


And THIS Minnesota Public Radio interview by Phil Picardi with Jan Joannides, Executive Director of Renewing the Countryside, on the morning following the Farmland Summit. 









Renewing the Countryside Director, Jan Joannides, participated in a live interview with Phil Piccardi of Minnesota Public Radio following the 2023 Upper Midwest Farmland Summit. Photo by Sara George.


You can find more farmland access-related articles and interviews, as well as past issues of the Farmland Access Hub newsletter on our “News” page: https://www.farmlandaccesshub.org/news


Upcoming Events



Land Stewardship Project—Online Farm Transition Course

LSP is hosting an online holistic Farm Transition Planning Course designed to help you act on your conservation and social values. Six 2 ½ hour sessions will bring professionals, farmers, and LSP staff together to dig into values, goals, and communication strategies, as well as generational, financial, legal, and long-term care considerations. Click the link to learn more, view the schedule and get registered! 


Circle of Resilience - Navigating the big decisions on your farm

Tuesdays from 7-8:30 p.m. Jan 9, 16, 23, and 30


Not many farmers begin farming because they love creating risk management plans. In fact, most even dread it. Even the most proactive farmers can quickly feel overwhelmed, lonely, and frustrated by the direction to take or all the paperwork. But what could you achieve if you had the right risk management strategies and a team of your peers to brainstorm and connect with? In January, Practical Farmers of Iowa is partnering with Farm Commons to host a Circle of Resilience, a FREE four part virtual 90-minute gathering of farmer peers to create a plan and provide support.   We’ll tackle the questions that matter most to your legal resilience, including land tenure, business structures, employment law and farm insurance.  This will be Space is limited to ten, so be sure to register for this four-part series today.


Registration Sign-Up Link: https://questionpro.com/t/AOj0MZ0dn4


PFI Conference

Since its founding in 1985, the annual PFI conference has been a keystone event for sharing knowledge, building connections, and celebrating agriculture in Iowa. With over 1,000 attendees, PFI will offer three pre-conference short courses, 60+ farmer-led sessions on a wide variety of agricultural topics, 80+ exhibitors, locally sourced meals, and a spirit of curiosity and community. 

To learn more about the conference and to register, follow this link: https://practicalfarmers.org/events/annual-conference/2024-annual-conference/


Land Trust and Commoning Workshop: exploring alternative models of farmland transition and access

When: January 25th, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. CST


Join The Farmers Land Trust, Humble Hands Harvest, and WFAN for an educational workshop on land trusts and the land commons model. This workshop is geared toward landowners, land seekers, and farmers at all stages of their careers--from beginning farmers to those approaching retirement and thinking about land transition.


This workshop will begin with ample time for roundtable introductions. Kristina Villa from The Farmers Land Trust will present on the land commons model, followed by Hannah Breckbill of Humble Hands Harvest in Decorah, Iowa, sharing HHH's story of land acquisition. There will be ample time for Q&A and discussion. Bring your questions and come eager to learn about alternative land ownership models!

Register Here and find more on our Events Calendar


This Holiday Season, Give the Gift of Real Change!


In the spirit of the giving season we hope you'll consider giving in a way that makes real change for farmers and for our communities, which translates to, well, all of us. It can be easy to forget that the food we eat daily wouldn't be on our tables at all without farmers.


The work that happens in the Farmland Access Hub is a program invented and overseen by local non-profit Renewing the Countryside (RTC) and directly supports the success of farmers on the land—and farmers on the land means food on our tables.


By donating to RTC you support programs like Farmland Access, Farmland Transition, Farm to School, Farm to Early Care, Women in Agriculture, Conservation, and more!


From Renewing the Countryside:


"2023 was a terrific year in outreach & education regarding farmland access, new farmer entry, and farmland transition. We coached 100 clients, one-on-one, in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin to guide them toward durable and fair land tenure. We raised awareness about access issues through our Preserving Farmland exhibit at the MN State Fair, MPR news coverage, and our new Farmland Access Hub website. We trained a new cohort of Farmland Access Navigators (whose network has grown from 4 in 2017 to 22 now) and co-hosted our second Upper Midwest Farmland Summit with 200+ participants, 60+ speakers and 20 breakout sessions. In 2024, RTC will provide more one-on-one coaching, will continue to bring you the latest coverage of access issues, and will explore a possible 2025 Summit to strengthen the new connections and cutting-edge conversations sparked this year."


If you'd like to be part of these endeavors, consider making a tax-deductible donation to Renewing the Countryside.


Make a contribution today and help us support farmers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa in the ways they need it most!





If this isn't the right time for a donation, but you'd like to learn more, visit https://www.renewingthecountryside.orgThank you for making wonderful things happen this year!


HAPPY HOLIDAYS!



 


Interested in making your land available to farmers?


Are you a landowner interested in renting your land or selling/transitioning your farm to the next generation? You may want to consider featuring your farm’s profile on the new “Transitions” page on the Farmland Access Hub website. It is our hope that this page will become a central resource in the Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa tri-state area for farmland owners hoping to connect with interested farmers regarding the transfer of land and farm businesses. To get the word out about your available farmland, please fill out the intake form on this page or contact Bonnie Warndahl at bonnie@rtcinfo.org or 612-462-9311.

62 views

Comentários


bottom of page