The Berkshire Farmland Initiative
The Berkshire Farmland Initiative works to put more farmers on the land and more land into farming. The Initiative serves:
- Farmers seeking land
- Landowners seeking someone to farm their land
- Farmers planning to transition their farm to the next generation or owner
- Communities that want to make farmland available and foster farming opportunities
- Service providers engaged in farmland access and transfer
The Berkshire Farmland Initiative will offer workshops, professional training, community meetings, match-making assistance, a resources directory of technical assistance providers and support organizations, and a farm transfer mini-grant program.
Next steps include:
- Connect farmers seeking land with landowners, aiming to expand agricultural production in the region
- Create farm succession and transfer plans for retiring farmers in order to keep farms in production
- Acquire community-owned farmland to ensure local control and permanent affordability of farmland
These are tasks which require an individualized, situation-specific, place-based approach. There are many experts and organizations ready to assist you and your community. Below we have compiled resources and a list of partner organizations to get you started. For additional information or assistance, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Land for Good
Land for Good works to ensure the future of farming in New England by putting more farmers more securely on more land. They offer a selection of valuable tools for individuals and communities working to secure farmland access, tenure and transfer:
to ensure the future of farming in New England by putting more farmers more securely on more land. – See more at: http://landforgood.org/about/#sthash.zqylRHRk.dpuf
- Toolbox for Farm Seekers. Worksheets, guides, tutorials, sample leases and more.
- Toolbox for Farm Transfer Planning. Worksheets, guides, websites, and more.
- Toolbox for Land Owners. Worksheets, guides, tutorials, sample leases and more.
- Toolbox for Communities. Guides, policy research and more.
New England Farmland Finder
New England Farmland Finder is a searchable database of available farmland in New England, designed to help farm seekers and farm property holders find each other. The website is free and easy to use and we encourage farm seekers and landholders alike to make use of this site.
New Entry Sustainable Farming Project
The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, an initiative of Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, works locally, regionally, and across the country to strengthen local food systems by supporting new farmers. They have written a helpful Guide to Finding, Accessing and Securing Farmland.
American Farmland Trust
Berkshire Co-op Market
Berkshire Natural Resources Council
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission
Center for Environmental Studies at Williams College
Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire
Community Land Trust of Southern Berkshires
Farm Bureau of Berkshire County
Greater Berkshire Agriculture Fund of The Carrot Project
Land For Good
Sheffield Land Trust
Williamstown Rural Land Foundation
The Berkshire Farmland Initiative grew out of Keep Berkshires Farming, a three year agricultural planning effort that gathered data, summarized the current status of agriculture in the Berkshires, and organized the community to set goals for strengthening agriculture in the region. Now we are building on this terrific beginning: Berkshire Grown is overseeing the implementation of recommendations coming out of the Keep Berkshires Farming process, including work on local livestock production and farmer networking.
The Berkshire Farmland Initiative is a collaboration of Berkshire Grown, Land for Good, and The Greater Berkshire Agricultural Fund in partnership with organizations committed to supporting farming in the Berkshires. The Berkshire Farmland Initiative is supported in part by the Lawson Valentine Foundation and the Cedar Tree Foundation. Assistance for farm succession planning is made possible by the John P. Farkas Fund.