As outsiders to the land trust world, we ask Land Trust Alliance (LTA) members to grant us a small licence as we make the following pitch: for conservation reasons, invest in working farms.
By ‘investing in working farms’ we mean not only to preserve ecologically important spaces that are found on farms—though this will continue to be important. We mean supporting farms that already provide remarkable ecological services — but won’t for long if they can’t find new ways to generate farm incomes without resorting to practices that are not environmentally sustainable. We also mean supporting farmers who show commitment to high environmental standards, so we can dramatically reduce both the local and global ecological footprint of our current food system.
In this paper, we will sketch out three things for the purpose of sparking a discussion: why we think this idea is important, what needs to happen in order for the idea to work, and (assuming
you’re persuaded to continue) where you might begin if you’d like to investigate further.
We propose to restrict the discussion to the conservation benefits of investing in working farms. We believe, however, that it would be relatively simple to document the considerable economic and social benefits that would flow from this investment as well—not the least of which is the production of nutritious, healthy food.
Natural Allies is one of ten ideas West Coast Environmental Law is investigating along with its partners FarmFolk/CityFolk and the Liu Institute for Global Issues (UBC) as part of a food law reform project called Growing Green.