Recent discussions led by UCCE Bay Area Urban Ag, in collaboration with local community members, observed that "one of the most challenging hurdles for beginning and immigrant farmers (is) securing land to grow food. Meanwhile, religious institutions own lands throughout the United States that are often suitable for agriculture."
Varying in size from 1,000 square feet to 100 acres, faith based groups have the ability to partner with communities to "save resources, advance food security, connect traditional faith-based stories to land and agriculture, and help small farmers overcome economic and structural barriers".
Innovative examples include:
- A farmer leasing from a Seventh Day Adventist middle school in Sonoma County, CA.
- A farmer who leased land from her church while developing a farm project, allowing for her to scale to the point she qualified for a USDA loan for a piece of land that has a home and infrastructure.
- Partnerships were established with perennial food forest and seed banks (eg.4-acres on an Episcopal Church site).
"The Faithlands movement is growing nationally to connect and inspire faith communities to use their land in new ways that promote ecological and human health, support local food and farming, enact reparative justice, and strengthen communities. On the Agrarian Trust's Faithlands web page, download the free FAITHLANDS TOOLKIT A Guide to Transformative Land Use. Interfaith is a regional and national organization which supports congregations of all faiths, denominations and backgrounds by connecting them with farmers and supporting farm stand initiation, farmers markets, and CSAs.
The idea is innovative and traditional: Many faith-based groups are doing community-based food systems work, such as:
- emergency food distribution
- operation of commercial-scale kitchens
- stewarding lands
Faithlands work can be cultivated by local farmers
Lands stewarded by faith-based groups in urban areas present a huge opportunity for cultivation by urban farmers, given high costs of land values in cities. This use is be stewarted by organizations like Land for Good - which supports land transfers for farming and the development of land use agreements. Their amazing ToolBox web page has significant resources for building and negotiating leases for- and with- farmers and landowners.
Read More about the recent event mentioned above here: Growing Food & Land Access/Security with Urban and Peri-Urban Farms on Faithlands - UCCE Urban Ag Program Blog - October 19th, 2021