NRLT Partners with Agrarian Trust to Increase Access to Affordable Farmland

The Land Trust has been conserving farmland in the New River region for many years, and we’re always looking for additional options to support agriculture in our rural community. Thanks to a new partnership with the Agrarian Trust, we’re joining communities around the nation to announce the formation of the Agrarian Commons, a new model for community-centered farm ownership.

The Southwest Virginia Agrarian Commons is a partnership between the New River Land Trust, Garden Variety Harvests, and the Agrarian Trust. Virginia Tech’s Catawba Sustainability Center is an educational center partner.

The Agrarian Commons model addresses two urgent issues for American agriculture: farmland affordability for new farmers and the 400 million acres of American farmland that will be changing hands as a generation of farmers retires. The mission of the Commons is the protection of working farms and natural ecosystems for land access, equity and affordability for farmers.  The structure of the Commons is similar to the Community Land Trust model, where land is held by an organization that grants long-term equitable leases that serve to further the mission of the organization.

The Southwest Virginia Agrarian Commons is working with several local farms and organizations to create options for small-scale, community-stewarded farmland in the region. In addition to being conserved with a conservation easement, land held in the SWVA Agrarian Commons will be preserved as a working farm in perpetuity, with affordable and equitable leases granted to farmers that are committed to sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices.

Kim Kirkbride, Assistant Director at the Land Trust, will serve as a founding board member for the new organization. In addition, the Land Trust will hold conservation easements on farms in the Commons that are within our eight county service area and provide information to landowners about the Commons as an option to preserve their working farms.