WA Project Aims to Reshape Access to Farmland
Monday, September 20, 2021
WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. - A farming project on a Puget Sound island is looking to reshape agriculture and access to land.
The nonprofit Agrarian Trust launched its Agrarian Commons project in 12 sites across the U.S.
Puget Sound Agrarian Commons got its start in 2020 after a 12 acre farm gift on Whidbey Island.
Addie Candib is the Pacific Northwest regional director for American Farmland Trust and a board member on Puget Sound Agrarian Commons. Farmers who join the commons, Candib said, will be part of the board and involved in decision making on the property.
"This is really trying to not just get farmers on the land," said Candib, "but to also empower them as thought partners and really having some power in the long-term stewardship of the land."
The commons recently opened up for proposal requests from farmers. The land currently is undeveloped.
She said farmers who become part of the commons will use regenerative agriculture to create a resilient ecosystem.
Candib noted the majority of farm owners in the U.S. are older and white and notes that as they retire, a large amount of land will change hands. Candib said the commons wants to support a new generation of farmers.
"We also know that access to land is one of the biggest barriers that faces beginning farmers," said Candib, "and particularly beginning farmers who are people of color or who come from backgrounds where they historically have not had access to land."
Candib said she believes the project is crucial for supporting the future of local agriculture.
"If we want healthy, vibrant local food systems we need to figure out how we get people who want to farm onto the land," said Candib, "in ways that are stable and secure and affordable so that people can really thrive in their chosen careers."
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