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  • 00:18 Panama
  • 04:14 Theft As Policy
  • 07:52 M28,Farming is Hard
  • 14:45 "Ian McSweeney, Agrarian Trust"
  • 17:48 Early Work in Real Estate
  • 20:25 Where Did a Passion for Farmland Come From?
  • 24:16 "When Community Suffers, Community Farms Suffer"
  • 24:43 Founding of Agrarian Trust
  • 28:06 Why Agrarian Trust?
  • 29:53 Innovation
  • 31:50 Community Based Ownership Model
  • 32:43 Land Prices
  • 35:45 Land Valuation Methods
  • 40:34 What Does Agrarian Trust Do?
  • 43:20 Models for Creating Local Communities
  • 47:57 Ensuring Long-Term Communities
  • 50:04 Conversations Easments
  • 52:55 Enforcing Sustainable Action
  • 55:23 Opportunities for Restructuring Conservation Management
  • 57:34 Scaling Processing with Land Trust Vertical Integration?
  • 59:13 Alternative Financing for Farmers
  • 1:02:56 Agrarian Lawyer Network
  • 1:06:03 Urban Farming
  • 1:08:40 Addressing Climate Change?
  • 1:11:47 Initial Areas for Farm Commons Projects
  • 1:12:59 Agrarian Trust work going foward
  • 1:14:08 Next Steps
  • 1:19:55 What Can We Do?

(Please pardon the poor quality machine translation until we can human edit and clean it up)

David Torcivia:

I'm David Torcivia.

Daniel Forkner:

[0:02] I'm Daniel Forkner.

David Torcivia:

[0:10] And this is Ashes Ashes, a show about systemic issues, collapse of the environment, and if we're unlucky the end of the world.

Daniel Forkner:

[0:12] But if we learn from all this maybe we can stop that. The world might be broken but it doesn't have to be.

David Torcivia:

[0:19] In June of 2011 the Panamanian government the u.s. ambassador to Panama.

[0:24] And an American company AES celebrated the construction of the Chan 75 hydroelectric Dam.

[0:31] By International Development standards the project was a huge success that represents the potential for economic growth and international cooperation in the quote developing world.

[0:42] But those who benefited financially from the project told only a small piece of the story.

[0:47] Missing from the narrative was the 3400 Acres of flooded rainforest along the Chang Gonzalo river that drove over 1,000 indigenous nabe people from homes they have lived in for Generations.

[0:58] Prior to the damn the Nabi people's lifestyle was one of subsistence and peace with the new development created a people through violence corruption and fat.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:08] In 2001 the World Bank established a land Administration project which would enable title creation for indigenous lands in Panama.

[1:18] But it failed to give Land Titles to people that had inhabited the land or countless Generations.

[1:24] Instead it was used to declare the nabe people migrants claim their land estate property and what followed were efforts to forcibly evict the people from there.

David Torcivia:

[1:50] The World Bank never consulted with the people that be most impacted by the development.

[1:55] Not a single indigenous person receive title to their land and 99% of the people were removed from their land now say that their lives have become much worse after being displaced the crops and forth they depended on for life.

[2:07] Or destroyed and many were forced into urban towns where they struggle to survive and live on healthy and happy lives.

[2:15] Well all of this has resulted in impoverishment the World Bank can I report the opposite.

[2:19] Claiming that these not be people used to live a harsh and impoverished subsistence lifestyle but have now risen out of that $2 day extreme poverty level and into a more quote Modern urban environment.

Daniel Forkner:

[2:32] This is a show about land specifically land.

[2:45] The dangerous trend of land consolidation into destructive hand we picked this panamanians story.

[2:53] Kind of by random because there are so many examples of this happening all over the world. Large International organizations and Economic Institutions put pressure on local governments to hand over their land for development.

[3:08] So that foreign investment can come in take control of local resources and funnel that money back across Borders or retain it within these countries among the political and economic Elite.

[3:21] The people of course who live on this land have no voice they have no say in these decisions in the global economy looks at them with indifference and contempt.

[3:31] Only bothering to deal with them when it's time to push them off their land.

David Torcivia:

[3:36] We like to think that these stories of stealing from indigenous people are something of the past something that the nations of the world places like the United States have been built upon but we've learned from our mistakes.

Daniel Forkner:

[3:47] Like the overthrow the Guatemalan democracy.

David Torcivia:

[3:51] Well for more reason example yes. What this very reason examples with the participation of groups like The World Bank fees International groups and multinational companies investing in these opportunities show that once again nothing has changed the violence in the world has been built upon assist been shifted out of sight. Into increasingly far-reaching places and this exists in every part of our economy including the land itself. Theft As Policy

Daniel Forkner:

[4:14] And while this example in Panama is very overt. There was a large American corporation AES the secure the contract for building this project and it involved an international organization the World Bank to put in place certain things that would help this project come about.

[4:39] Cool people and Indigenous people off the Record so at the height of the economic crisis around 2007.

[4:46] There was a related Spike and food prices at the same time. More than a billion people went hungry and foreign investors use this as an opportunity to seize land at record low prices under the guise of helping create jobs and stimulate economy.

[5:03] The Oakland Institute researched this phenomenon in Africa and other developing countries and found some startling things.

[5:11] In 2009 alone an estimated 59 million hectares which is 145 million acres in developing countries were taken control by Foreign investors a majority of which land was in Africa.

[5:25] The people primarily affected by these land deals.

[5:39] And no public records for journalists to discover the only way to discover these land deals was to see or experience first-hand the bulldozers or other method being used to destroy people's land and throw them off of it.

David Torcivia:

[5:52] Just an example how some of these deals were carried out and by whom.

[5:57] The Oakland Institute discovered that in Sudan a former United States Ambassador for Refugee Affairs struck a deal with politicians that took control of 1.5 million acres of land.

[6:08] With an option to control much more for just $25,000 this particular contract gave this former Ambassador the right to do anything you wanted to.

[6:25] Turn on this land gold oil diamonds whatever.

Daniel Forkner:

[6:29] He would give it to the people.

David Torcivia:

[6:30] Not quite Daniel they were his decell the people who actually lived on the land these people you just mentioned they had no idea obviously and if they had found diamonds under their feet what would you think.

Daniel Forkner:

[6:43] They be rich David because they just discovered diamonds.

David Torcivia:

[6:46] More likely to be homeless because you can bet your life that he would have kicked them off this land and remember this isn't some like evil corporate Tyrant or dictator or third world nation this is a US ambassador for Refugee Affairs you can't make this up.

Daniel Forkner:

[7:01] Maybe he's just thinking about his future prospects David if he can create more refugees well mortal man for his job right.

David Torcivia:

[7:09] The ultimate form of job security right there.

Daniel Forkner:

[7:12] And that's just one example but this land grabbing which intensified after the financial crisis it did not just occur in the developing world but even right here in the United States.

[7:24] The financial crisis shook a lot of institutional investors and a lot of value was lost in the stock market and other investment assets. And it encouraged investors to seek places to store their Capital that had some more cushion against economic Spike and a lot of big investors found that.

[7:42] In the form of agricultural land and this gets us closer to this Tipping Point that we are now on.

[7:47] The prices of Farmland access which is the focus of the show. Farming Is Hard

David Torcivia:

[7:53] Overstock Daniel farming is really hard.

[7:56] Just 1.2% of the US population are farmers or related in some way to farming agriculture ranching whatever but they provide food for the entire nation and much of the world.

[8:07] And this comes at a great cost.

[8:08] Farming is the 8th most deadly job in the United States what's more than police officers which a lot of people tend to think is number one and in fact in terms of suicide rates this is something that I think really highlights how difficult farming is and how much of a crisis farmers are facing.

[8:23] Farmers have the highest rate of suicide of any profession and I'll just buy little bit but by over 30%.

[8:30] Look at pictures taken for just one moment why is that the case well a lot of it has to do with that and I love that that has to do with land access.

Daniel Forkner:

[8:38] That's right David it is extremely hard to be a farmer today and you really touched on why that is it's hard to be a farmer because it's almost impossible to make a living from farming without being dependent on Industrial agriculture.

[8:53] And the reason for that starts with what you just said accessing land is very expensive to access land because land prices have skyrocketed.

[9:01] In the u.s. prices for Farmland have more than doubled between 2003 and 2013 and that price appreciation had accelerated at a faster rate or some Regent in the Corn Belt.

[9:13] And these increase prices are being driven by a number of factors a big part of it is this institution APUSH.

[9:19] Or agricultural land as investment with artificially raises the value beyond the pure agricultural value.

[9:27] And from the market standpoint agricultural land is seen as low productivity if your alternative option is a shopping.

[9:40] Retail mixed-use project raises the value of land even further Beyond its agricultural value making it near-impossible for a farmer to access land that would be affordable using sustainable agricultural methods.

[9:53] And as a result just to get into farming many people have to take on enormous loans just to afford the land in the first place.

[10:00] And this is where the trouble really begins because if you have a large loan and you have to pay this back.

[10:06] You're only way to do that is usually to conform to Industrial agricultural methods because it takes a long time to build a sustainable and regenerative relationship with soil year.

[10:40] It's like chemical fertilizers and other machines and his practice is now make a farmer dependent on the global economy because they're now selling a commodity which they are compete.

[11:01] Because of high cost and extremely low prices for their product and it goes without saying that these. Farming operations are now encouraged by the industrial economy do not in any way benefit the surrounding Community because the crops that these farmers are growing don't go to the people around them. But rather on two trucks and long-distance Shipping Lines where they can be distributed wherever the market can get the best price for them.

David Torcivia:

[11:28] In the focus of the show is of course on the United States.

[11:32] But the same Concepts in stories play out around the world special in India we talked in the past about those High suicide rates among farmers and India and this land access and that is the same thing driving that problem their clothes around the world.

[11:45] One thing that is unique to the United States though.

[11:47] Is the Aging of our farmers 57% of farm operators over 55 years old and those younger than 35 will they make up just 5% of the farming population.

[11:59] What is this mean this means our Farms are getting older and as he's Farmers pass away and leave their Farms to their children but love these children don't want to be farmers.

[12:07] They take this land and they sell it to these large industrial Farms will turn around and try and Lisa to Farmers who want to just get started. And what this means is that the same real estate problems that we're seeing play out in the cities around the United States.

[12:19] With landlords constantly raising the rent on apartments and a cost of buying a home or apartment being Out Of Reach of many Americans the same thing is happening to this land that grows very food that we eat.

[12:30] It's either too expensive to buy or to expensive to rent and the result is less farmers and more misery.

Daniel Forkner:

[12:37] So David the focus of the show is how this inability to access land of boardable presents a barrier to what is possibly the only solution. To the destruction of industrial agriculture that we talked about in episode 16. Which is regenerative agriculture and sustainable local economies that benefit local community.

[12:59] And we did touch on some of the disastrous consequences of industrial agriculture in episode 16 like the loss of global top soil.

[13:08] Becoming phosphorus crisis as non-renewable resources that make up our chemical fertilizers become more and more scarce. The dependence on oil and petrochemicals for these long distance Transportation infrastructure and large-scale operations on these Farms.

[13:24] Well the only viable long-term solutions to these problems to this wholesale Global destruction of the soil must begin with regenerative and sustainable agricultural practices which will necessarily be local.

[13:39] Because part of being sustainable means among many things were going a dependence on cheap fossil fuels or long distance.

[13:56] Barriers.

David Torcivia:

[13:57] You're in the show we spend a lot of time talking about bad news these problems the things that are going wrong.

[14:04] We always try and make an effort to offer Solutions still alternatives to these broken systems to suggest way that they could be fixed or better to get to that better world.

[14:13] And today we're going to build a lot of time to an organization that is trying to do just that.

[14:18] This is a group working to fix a lot of these land excess problems and work towards a more sustainable responsible future and somebody will really excited to talk about.

[14:28] But at the bearer of bad news on the show I am incapable of hearing anything good so I'm going to have to step out for just a little bit here Daniel but I will let you take over for this next section and I'll be back to wrap this up with you once we get back to some bad news.

Daniel Forkner:

[14:41] Sounds good David will see you in a little bit. Ian Mcsweeney, Agrarian Trust

Daniel Forkner:

[14:45] There seems to be a perfect storm of factors that threatened to completely reset a pipe who owns Farmland in the US and globally.

[14:54] 400 million Acres of Farmland in the us alone will change hands in the next 20 years.

[15:00] Farmers are retiring and there is a much smaller generation of young Farmers to replace them.

[15:05] And Global investment for agricultural land is on the rise which will push some family Farmers off the land in favor of industrial consolidation.

[15:15] And beyond that Farmland is being lost two competing land uses one acre is lost every minute to development.

[15:23] To help navigate some of these issues and as an example of solutions that are being developed and implemented to fight against these Trends we are joined by Christy Alessandro who introduced an episode 16 thanks for joining us Chris.

Christopher D'Alessandro:

[15:37] Thank you very much Daniel it's great to be here.

Daniel Forkner:

[15:39] And we are also joined by Ian McSweeney and is the organizational director of agrarian trust which will be talking about in detail.

[15:47] Is founder of Farmland Consulting and he recently served as the executive director of the Russell Foundation wear through his work over 12,000 Acres were protected in over 100 Farmland project.

[16:01] And over 17 million dollars was raised to benefit local agrarian Community Ian has been recognized as a 40 under 40 l in New Hampshire and has been selected for the Leadership Institute.

[16:14] Food Solutions New England and thank you for joining us and welcome to ashes ashes.

Ian McSweeney:

[16:19] Thank you for having me I'm excited to talk.

Daniel Forkner:

[16:22] Did you grow up in New Hampshire.

Ian McSweeney:

[16:24] I grew up in New England that I grew up south of Boston in Massachusetts in what was when I was young of pretty Royal community and kind of small arms still existed but now is just suburbs of Boss.

Daniel Forkner:

[16:39] How did you feel seeing some of those changes take place to this rural community that you grew up in.

Ian McSweeney:

[16:44] Also a mix for some of it.

[16:48] Place after I left after I left for college the commuter rail reconnected back to South Shore Massachusetts and that drove a lot of growth. As with kind of the real estate Bubble at the time prior to that the loss is a little more gradual of Farmland but there was some significant. Farms that I was connected to kind of right behind.

[17:11] Hertz house where I grew up and then right across the street from grandparents house that really the loss of those Farms was impact.

[17:19] And thought there must be a different way to find an exiting farmer to gain Equity Financial equity for their retirement for healthcare for their future needs. And to allow the Next Generation farmer to get access to that it doesn't just have to be selling out for development and land conversion and extraction goals. To bring about the financial needs that's that kind of those situations helped motivate me to do what I do now.

Daniel Forkner:

[17:49] It's so you mentioned Farmers building equity in their land and. Early Work In Real Estate

[17:53] I'm luxurious about your early work because after developing outdoor based education as a social worker you formed a real estate brokerage company that prioritize conservation and agricultural community.

[18:06] Was that difficult to do because I imagine there's a lot of conflicting incentives when it comes to real estate development buying and selling land.

[18:14] And the goals of conservation.

Ian McSweeney:

[18:16] Yeah they're definitely are you know it's people sit in different camps around both development Act of agriculture in many cases and land conservation. Kind of historical pure sense of protecting the land from human impact so it was trying to bring those three roots and interests together. Which was difficult at times but I I found success in the fact that development approvals in New England's contacts are taken forward on a Town by Town basis. And so each town has different regulations and process and the time and skill to navigate those just ads cost for Developers. So if they could reduce costs by forming allies upfront with my help allies with conservation, and agricultural communities saving cost in their approval process.

[19:08] And Expediting their time to Market you know it really could create a compromise that provided benefit for all size.

Daniel Forkner:

[19:17] Did you have a lot of models to learn from as you were doing this work or did you going to have to learn as you went.

Ian McSweeney:

[19:24] Had to learn as I went but there's a lot more interest now in partnering agriculture with development and some conservation when I started there was not. Those models you know if there's a few out there but not many and really as I mentioned that New England's home rule where each town has.

[19:51] In many ways so that it's not a approach that can just be replicated across the landscape in a purposeful and mindful way that it takes a real connection to land and local.

[20:03] Community in place to print a beneficial project for all.

Daniel Forkner:

[20:07] That's something that I was really curious to ask you at some point maybe when we get into agrarian trust work is is how you replicate these things and how much you have to rely on local expertise and knowledge to put some of these practices into place for conserving. Where Did A Passion For Farmland Come From?

[20:28] And farm access and building resilient communities. I'm kind of curious where that came from do you think it was just from seeing those Suburban environments take over your rule home or was there something else you saw that really made you realize the need to advocate for these issues of preservation in Vineland access.

Ian McSweeney:

[20:46] Combination sorry it was early childhood experiences that were impactful and created a need to do this work. But then again I've always had a girl to connect and work with and help people through their life journey and it found it on loss of human connections to other human connection to soil to food. Community loss of community in general is really something from kind of what I was young growing up to now. Having kids and seeing that and seeing the different and how our towns communities and connections are.

[21:24] This is a huge void that we really need to address as a culture to reconnect in those ways and much of the, workarounds of pure land conservation say is siloed and protection of land and yet it doesn't really connect, community and people in a way that I can.

[21:44] And the same could be said for the specially kind of big AG the way that's headed and you know it's removing people and communities from the land to move into simply. Monoculture across the landscape so you know how do we kind of create those connections that have been lost and seeing the breakdown of those of my life has really helped to motivate me to.

[22:08] Create some alternative.

Daniel Forkner:

[22:10] That's something that personally I've been learning about just. Recently that's really become something I think about all the time as how our economy how our society breaks communities down our things gets eyelid off into their constituent parts and and how we lose this connection to Orlando. That I've actually been talking a lot to my friends and my family about the importance of Agriculture and farming and it's. To be honest the conversation is a little foreign to them because we grew up here in Atlanta and a city. In a Suburban environment they don't really understand why I'm talking about farming I've never farmed before but. It's just become so obvious to me that that is the foundation of how we as a society can even survive and especially the communities around that is super important.

Ian McSweeney:

[22:51] Yeah completely is if that's you know that's a great culture the founding of our culture is based on that and it's something that I experience that I had about it, where to go when I get started with the Russell Foundation a couple years and was connecting in beginning my work with a farm that's local and Southern New Hampshire. Farm the temple Wilton Community farm so the temple Wilton Community Farm was one of the first chew CSA farms in the country. Started 1984 with another Farm Indian line Farm in Western Massachusetts so 1984. Number to CSA operating farms in this country now at least the 2015 USDA have that figure out about 14,000.

Daniel Forkner:

[23:38] CSA being community supported agriculture.

Ian McSweeney:

[23:42] Yeah yeah so that's huge growth in a in a business sector and you know from 1984 to today. Many other measures have Community Health and connectivity, have declined and you know our road and very quickly and our health as humans are health of society is suffering from those things but you know when you look at the success of csa's in farmers markets have had similar growth, trajectory as well they found a different way a different model to connect with community that this really proven very effective. When Community Suffers, Community Farms Suffer

[24:16] But then when you dig a Little Deeper there depending upon the health of community to support the farm, and if everything else around the community is suffering it's a very tenuous situation these forms of put themself in because.

[24:31] Of the lack of Health in other aspects of community so are we dig deeper into that to support community and they and that's something we can touch more on with agrarian trust work.

Daniel Forkner:

[24:42] Absolutely so you're the director or the organizational director of agrarian Trust. Founding Of Agrarian Trust

[24:48] And agrarian trust was co-founded by the Shoemaker Institute for New Economic and the greenhornes can you tell us a little bit about what these two organizations do and what they are.

Ian McSweeney:

[24:59] Glad you're so yeah the Schumacher Center for new economics they and the greenhornes so really agrarian trust with a vision and carry forward by, an individual Severn Fleming who also co-founded National young Farmers Coalition Farm hack and then green orange, and the greenhornes has long been kind of an advocacy Communications Outreach and of movement building organization to raise the issue around the need for national, awareness of age of farmers transition of farmland, and the need for Next Generation Farmers to have the skills support community and access to land in. The Schumacher Center for new economics along bin a cultural leader. Based in Berkshires of Massachusetts but in bringing about new forms of. Community and economic models of success they created things like the Earth shares a community-based currency.

[26:08] Who created the CSA movement that the other Farm the Indian line Farm, was developed out of an in partnership with a Schumacher Center so they flock of cultivated these ideas in was brought about as a. National nonprofit land trust that could. Develop models and then live into activating these models as a land holding structure.

[26:37] And Lynn holding structure to bring about the transition of Farmland from current generation who's exiting to next generation of farmers who need Xanax, and also to cold that lands or common benefit so moving it out of the commodity Market Place. Port Stanley seen as its highest and best value which in most parts of the country is not tied to agriculture so how do you cut a, bring it outside of that market forces in a way that future transitions of that land does not depend upon significant. Financial Resources to you know allow exiting farmer to have the equity they need an incoming Palmer to get the access. Presently the value of that Farmland is so significant in people's exiting Farmers wealth is tied up in that land, that access the land is noted as the biggest obstacle for New farmers from American Farm Bureau from National young Farmers from other national service that they don't have the money to afford, and at the same time he's exiting Farmers all their money. That they need for retirement for healthcare for the rest of their life is tied up in the land so how do you create a different model that. Removes that Equity from the land the land being the development value of lands in a way that facilitates better long-term stewardship of the land in the future.

Daniel Forkner:

[28:06] The land access that's a huge issue it's a Monumental issue and it needs as much help as it can get. Why Agrarian Trust?

[28:13] But there are a lot of conservation groups and land trust in the country. Where their needs not being met by these other organizations that kind of spurred the creation of agrarian trust are there some Innovations taking place in agrarian trust or is it go to Simply expand the number of people working on this issue.

Ian McSweeney:

[28:31] To this kind of gets into your other question from earlier around kind of how to consider the local needs for a National Organization. There are a lot of land conservation organizations across the country the vast majority of those are clustered in certain areas.

[28:49] Like we in a small state of New Hampshire have over 40 Lindros working in the state there States in in the middle of our country in the agricultural Ballad of our country that don't that you don't have a single land Ross working there, at the 40 land trust we have here is more than region of our country have so the Northeast the West Coast, Delia's clustered around wealthy Urban centers in the country have a lot or presence of land conservation groups, then other parts of the country so there's a huge disparity arounds where Land Trust work and where they don't so that's one factor to consider. And then there's real differences in the missions and priorities of land trusts and how they work.

[29:34] The really agrarian trust goals with differ depending where we work but being a National Organization our Focus would be to look at. The landscape across the country and see where we can work to bring about Innovation and bring about support. So Innovation

[29:54] You know it's hard we fit in is part of the question and then really what other lands costs are not doing that agrarian trust is moving to innovate and create the new model around is looking at.

[30:09] Picture of holistically that it's we need to protect the Agricultural and so does not lost or texting it from development extraction conversion. That is where most land trust they permanently protect the land with a conservation easement.

[30:25] And then it won't be lost to development so their work is done they leave the rest to individual.

[30:32] Families on the grounds in private citizens owning the lands do the rest but we agrarian Trust Field at the farm land has to be protected so, we prohibit those uses development extraction conversion uses but then we really need to address, who owns that land and how it is transferred from existing generation to the next out of that land is stewarded long-term. The agricultural soils are are very important for a variety of reasons. Food for carbon sequestration for ethological health.

[31:09] The easement protects them from being bulldozed often sold they protect them from being covered over and asphalt.

[31:18] Except for a a few a few that I could count on one hand the vast majority of land trusts are not talking about soil health and creating requirements around how that soil is actually stewardess. So you know what inputs go into the soil What organic matter is built in the soil the microbes in the soil those are critically important. And that is part of the conservation of this resource we agrarian trust feel. And really to get up that we need to protect the land with easement but we also need to create a community-based ownership model where the community is invested. Community Based Ownership Model

[32:00] And with agrarian trust and others help. We value things like soil Health we value things like you know the agricultural Enterprises human connections of soil education unityville. These things that go beyond land conservation.

Daniel Forkner:

[32:17] I think that's really important and I want to jump into the nuts and bolts of Hal Jordan ization is doing that now but before we do that I think it's important to highlight some of these.

[32:28] Big issues in agriculture and in this Farmland access that is the whole reason for your work in the first place and as long as we're talking about land access and the obstacles to land access is obviously a huge part of that is the price of land.

[32:43] So what do you think are some of the. Land Prices

[32:53] There's or Buy and Hold investors or is it the push to develop land into office buildings or are there some other factors going on.

Ian McSweeney:

[33:02] It's a mix of factors and it depends where in the country the land is located.

[33:08] The Northeast for example or around a lot of urban areas and highly developed areas Steve cost of land is driven by develop. Pressures. So for example something close to home for me in the small state of New Hampshire southern part of the state where I am is last an hour to Boston. Seacoast of New Hampshire is even closer to Boston and very desirable to live in an acre of land there an acre of farmland, with Road Frontage that's good soils can be 40 $50,000 for an acre of land there in the North, part of New Hampshire that's not commutable to Boston has very few economic opportunities an acre of the same type of farm land with the same road Frontage and characteristics can be. 800 to $1,000 an acre so some parts of the country developed and is definitely driving that valuation other parts of the country the Midwest, huge outside money coming in and consolidation of agricultural land or larger and larger, interests and investment interest there so that's driving up prices there and there's a loss of the people the land in the midwest is being depopulated towns or being lost.

[34:28] People so there's no way for the smaller Farm to for that by living in a community there's loss of communities in general there so it's really depends on the part of the country but there's huge, factors development outside model, aggregation of lands other speculation for future uses for those and natural resource extraction. There's all these things that are not a related to agriculture that are driving the value of agricultural land.

Daniel Forkner:

[35:00] Yeah I read the report by the Oakland Institute about how institutional investment is driving up prices for land and it's.

[35:07] I think it's so ironic in a little bit tragic that a lot of institutional investors are pushing into agricultural land because it in a way is very resilient against Financial shocks.

[35:17] But in this process of gobbling up the land.

[35:21] They're destroying what could be sustainable communities sustainable agriculture which itself is what protects communities from these Financial shocks it's what protects people that gives them through security so. In a way the institutional push for safety and Agricultural and is creating insecurity and and breaking down communities among the people who actually lives there.

Ian McSweeney:

[35:43] Right yeah.

Daniel Forkner:

[35:45] And you mentioned the way we value land has a big part of this what's the difference between agricultural use value and the real estate value of land and how does this create problems. Land Valuation Methods

Ian McSweeney:

[35:55] Will soon an appraisal of land appraisal needed for acquisition of land for financing of land will determine the value of Land Based on the highest and best use. The highest and best is defined as what will make the most Financial returns off that land and, highest Financial return in the immediate short-term not long-term Vision so that, what's that what can be extracted from or developed on the land in most cases will generate I higher return than kind of a long-term investment in, Total Health and the building of the Sanibel farming operation.

[36:37] There's a variety of factors but it's a struggle to find because the economics don't work because we don't. Pay the true cost of food to begin with so when we're not even paying the true cost of food. Farmer struggles to make a living the breaker revenue on an acre of Farmland actively Farms is quite low in comparison to. The per acre value if that acre or half an acre can be a house lot or there's ability to immediately extractors resources sell them to the highest bidder. And ignore the environmental impacts. To take place a farmer cannot ignore the environmental impacts right they have to factor in maintaining healthy environment and investing and environment to have a sustainable operations there.

[37:29] But any development extraction conversion uses of land thousands have to factor in. Environmental impacts and anyway they're just selling whatever they can't off the land for the highest bidder and then moving on to the next project.

Christopher D'Alessandro:

[37:44] So Ian is it possible that there's some sort of system that either agrarian trust is working on or maybe somebody else is pioneering.

[37:51] The might allow the farmer to have the best of all these scenarios I mean can they build soil make money in the short-term but then also have a plan set up for some sort of long-term sustainability.

Ian McSweeney:

[38:02] Yeah I will show it to a couple of factor so you know one is more of a hope and a vision that doesn't exist now.

[38:09] There's some movement towards this in California and there's been some kind of efforts towards this in Vermont. But you know can we split a value on soil Health on carbon sequestration can we use that. In some carbon Market that can generate Revenue that then could pay. The farmer for in a doing desired and healthy management and stewardship of the land so that would be one way to generate some Revenue that then could, hey Farmer for a being a good Steward of the land but that does not exist presently there are some models that exist for, carbon sequestration in Timber markets and that's in the works and that's created a whole Timberland investment, movement weathers companies and investment organizations that are focused on. Holding large tracts of forest lands enter able to be good stewards of that lands because there's Financial returns from sequestering carbon and a healthy for us but we don't have that on soil side, right now but that would be great to get to that point what we agrarian trust are moving to do is to, just as I mentioned earlier to remove the market value of that land the Farmland by moving the Farmland into a community ownership structure which we can discuss more soon, moving into a community ownership structure where then the cost and burdens of ownership no longer sit with.

[39:45] Individual Farmers to cover that that service and be responsible for that, and there's simply covering and responsible for being good stewards of the lands and being a good viable. And sustainable farming Enterprise and letting value grow in those two in the farm business Enterprise and then the ecological health of, soil in the environment and then using that value as what.

[40:15] Accident farmer with Jane as equity and then cash out in the future and what the entering farmer. Word compensate for creating the end of a staggered payment system so it's it can work as Retirement for exiting farmer and I can work as a reasonable investment in for incoming farmer.

Daniel Forkner:

[40:35] That's really cool why don't we just get into than agrarian trust and what you're doing. What Does Agrarian Trust Do?

[40:40] I love the three prongs mission of the organization which is to spread awareness of land access issues and some of the solutions that you have come up with. Also building networks of and models for the benefit of Agriculture stakeholders. And then actively protecting and transferring land to those who can take care of it don't want to ask you in a little bit how agrarian trust is achieving these goals.

[41:04] How are you spreading awareness of these land access issues and who is your target audience.

Ian McSweeney:

[41:10] Agrarian Frost being a new organization we've been Times building the organizational structure and raising awareness of the issue we've had, to National convenience of the last few years he's our Land convenience which are brought together several people to raise the issue there.

Daniel Forkner:

[41:30] I watched a few videos from those and I really enjoyed him when's the next one going to be.

Ian McSweeney:

[41:34] So the next one we're planning for early 2019 in the southeastern United States.

Daniel Forkner:

[41:42] That's where I'll do so I'll definitely come to that.

Ian McSweeney:

[41:45] Yeah the logo for the two of you and your really drill into local issues there to focus on land reparation and other underlying issues and bring together the next symposium. So that's one area partnering with green horns around the new, Farmers Almanac around series of short videos are land films also a larger film series, Film Fest to caring those things for but we really feel our target audience for this are the existing. Land owners and many land owners being elantris in the conservation World other nonprofit, owners one example would be Faith communities we just carried out in partnership with green horns and others a faith lands gathering in California that brought together Faith leaders from around the country, from many different face all with an interest in sustainable agriculture. And bringing forward these Faith communities land Holdings into real deep Community benefit, by conveying them into Community ownership really building community in a new way so that's more of that can be found at.

[42:58] Reryan Trust.

[42:59] Org backslash Faith lands with so really trying to tap into existing communities that owns significant farmland.

[43:09] That's the place to make the difference. If we create some models and then live into those models that these are the communities that are ready and able to adopt them on a much larger scale.

Daniel Forkner:

[43:21] And of course the third goal of your organization is to buy old and permanently protect Farmland in the US through what you call the commons based approach. Models For Creating Local Communities

[43:31] And to offer tools and networks for Farmers to work that land so I'm really curious about this part of the work the actual holding of land permanently protecting it.

[43:41] So how does agrarian trust acquire land in the first place.

Ian McSweeney:

[43:44] Yeah so we are presently setting up structures to we have partnered with the sustainable economies Law Center. Who is providing legal research support and guidance as we create these structures. So these landholding structures and investment structures are a combination of agrarian trust being the national. 501 c 3 non-profit we are then going to create localized. 501 C to farm Commons organization so these localized Farm Commons organization.

[44:22] Will be specific to Regions around the country will be connected to agrarian trust but have representation and. Part of me for that local community the community being the farmers the the organizations involved in Farmland ownership and food systems work and Community Building. Will be part of those organizations and there was organizations will own the farmland and those organizations in partnership with. Agrarian trust the 501 c 3. Will solicit dollars in the both fundraise dollars in and then small-scale Community investment dollars in raising money from all who have an interest.

[45:09] In being investor and owner in a in a model that's you know as we touched on the. Community supported agriculture that is really Community coming together investing upfront giving their money to a farm so the farm then has money for the operations during that year, and then both the community of investors and the community of farmers sharing the risk.

[45:33] And rewards of the farm production for that year so what we're looking to do is a similar model but around land ownership on a much longer-term scale where the community comes together.

[45:47] Invest money in Creative community supported land tenure model where where they are investors and owners through this 501c to and there then holding the farmlands in a long-term relationship. And their return on investment is social. And environmental so it's the increase soil Health it's the improvements to the ecology it's the access to local food. It's Community Health and Community engagement education other aspects like that that have great value Beyond Financial return. It is an investment though so it'll have a charm to it and at the end of that they would get their initial and Beth. Back to its cycling in new investors overtime as well but that's where the capital will be raised from is both film her topic dollars and from the community investment structure.

[46:42] And then I'll go into these localized 501c to.

[46:46] On the land and engage in 10-year relationship for the farmers in a way that is needed and meaningful for that localized area so it'll look differently as we touched on across the country. But that is the basic structure to it.

Daniel Forkner:

[47:01] Okay that I imagine you have to have a lot of Partners around the country who are tied to those local condition to understand the local conditions I mean do you have attorneys who can help put these deals together.

Ian McSweeney:

[47:13] Yes going to go to sustainable economies Law Center is a group of attorneys based in Oakland but we do have other Partnerships with attorneys and other organizations around the country and really where where we have the most, boss Starker ships is where we are first going to launch, these localized Farm comments 501c tooth and then by developing success with those we can cultivate new relationships and new Partnerships with those we need to launch into a new part of the, so we're being very strategic and where we first start and how many we start. And with the thought of as we build momentum and awareness week and then launched into new areas as well.

Daniel Forkner:

[47:57] You also mentioned long-term and permanently protecting I don't know if you said permanently protecting the land but I think that's one of the goals and I'm curious. Ensuring Long-Term Communities

[48:06] How do you make sure that these types of Partnerships stick around in the long term because something I learned visiting Chris's Farm is how long. It takes and how much patience you have to have in order to build good soil in order to start seeing big Returns on the sustain.

[48:30] For mixed-use retail project can't just use the money and pressure to dismantle these things and develop the land after so much work has been put into it.

Ian McSweeney:

[48:40] Yeah that's where the partnership with existing land trust and the conservation work they do around protecting land with conservation easements so that is a perimeter protection measure that is layered on top of land ownership. Kind of separate some of the rights of ownership from the the deed and is been held by this land trust. That is permanently enforcing against van conversion extraction degradation on the landfill in a partnering with existing Land Trust. Would hold conservation easements on the land. Is critical to this work where they exist where they don't exist because you know there are parts of the country where they don't exist as I mentioned it's building capacity for that to developing new Partnerships.

[49:29] Spending the work of existing Land Trust ingenue, Geographic areas so they can take on those roles and the reality of that until we build capacity in certain areas we being the collective we and all the organizations needed to bring this about. We can't step in and work everywhere because there's not capacity there so we need to build that capacity to have the. Organizations and the structures in place to fully protect the land owned the land and then support the farm Enterprises on the land to make. Conversations Easments

Daniel Forkner:

[50:05] Conservation easements are really interesting to me so the way I understand it is if I own land in the essay is my house will. I have a assortment of rights that come along with owning that land I have the right to. Build a shed on it if I want to I have the right to dig a hole in my backyard and if I find any gold down there I have the right to own it. And so we have this bundle of rights when we own a piece of land and the way I understand it is a conservation easement is essentially me. Selling one of those rights that could be my right to sell it to a developer of retail property for example you could be my right to destroy the soil.

[50:45] And in selling that right to the land trust it's now held there and prevents me from doing something that that would otherwise destroy the land is that basically how it work but there's a lot of variety in ways that you can use an Implement conservation easement.

Ian McSweeney:

[50:59] Yeah that is basically how it works at right as a landowner you have the bundle of rights as you're talking about in the western part of our country whose rights were severed long ago. In that most landowners do not require their water rights or their mineral rights when they're buying the land in the west part of this country because you, you think about the Gold Rush say for example that people migrated West in search of gold and so they were really interested and so is the mineral rights there. But didn't really care much about the land ownership so you know there's different, points in our history that led to and necessitate add the need to separate those rights out. In the western part of this country in the East week in general when we buy a piece of land we hold all those rights and less either prior owner as separated them or we decide to. Two most easements are when someone acquires a right on someone else's land today then have that active right to do something.

[52:02] Conservation easement to be a qualified conservation easement it can only be. Acquired and owned by qualified entities so these non-profit, land trust or a town County state federal government some part of government that is charged with protecting land so one of those qualified entities acquires the right. And then what they're doing is permanently prohibiting that right from ever being used. And what they then do is enforce against anyone using it so if you sell the right to develop your land beyond the house that sits on it. And then you ask yours out decide to build another house they are then required to.

[52:47] Yeah and enforce that so they are acquiring rights that then they're really just enforcing against those right ever being exercise to get on the lake.

Daniel Forkner:

[52:55] So we're talking about taking away or selling the rights to do something on a property but you mentioned how important it is to build communities these communities that benefit from the use of a lad in a sustainable way and so. Enforcing Sustainable Action

[53:10] If you want to encourage a farm or a community like that you need the land to actually be used right so.

[53:17] Do you ever have to go beyond just restricting certain things to actually saying okay if you own this land you also have to use it you have to farm it you have to produce food and you have to do that in a sustainable way.

Ian McSweeney:

[53:29] Yeah so that is what agrarian trust Endeavors to do and that's what these models will bring a boat.

Daniel Forkner:

[53:36] This is the Innovation that agrarian trust is to.

Ian McSweeney:

[53:38] Yeah that's the Innovation that is really you know land conservation in general is acquiring these conservation easements and prohibiting uses on the land. But then the farmlands might go follow him I grew up in the trees it might be conventional AG with chemical inputs on the ground in a variety of things that could be, even with a conservation easement on it so long as you're not violating that conservation easement that if you sold off the development rights as long as it is not. You know a strip mall a subdivision or something of that nature your meeting the terms of that conservation easement. And you're not in violation of the rights you no longer own.

[54:21] It's not getting into this how the land is actually used so that's where we agrarian trust heart ring with existing landstrasse to place an easement on land because then it, protection from that 50 years from now for developer with money comes in and tries to pressure those development rights are forever severed from the land. It also lowers. Cost of land as we discussed one of the primary factors that drives monetary value of agricultural land is developed pressure so if you separate those development rights you, significantly lower the value of that land so conservation easement very important that's the foundation of the world and step one. But then really owning the land in that 501c to farm Commons and say. Types of Agriculture the types of community engagement education. Other aspects that are part of agrarian trust Mission and really critical to meeting community and cultural needs. Opportunities For Restructuring Conservation Management

Christopher D'Alessandro:

[55:24] So I actually worked with a land trust and something I noticed was that there was sort of the divorce between Agriculture and conservation so for instance we were putting in community gardens in urban place to work, building food Security in local communities, conservation side of things there were substantially larger tracts of land that were held in conservation easements owned by the land trust and not held in private ownership, and it seems like the extent of the activity on these lands was the basically spray herbicide for invasive species so what I'm wondering.

[55:55] Is is there a way to potentially bring agriculture into harmony with conservation in Bridge this Gap it seems like the focus was mostly on annual gardening on small Urban plots, bringing awareness to people about how to grow food and then actually getting them access to that fresh food in urban areas.

[56:14] All this land is being held in conservation easement seems to me like massively untapped potential and so I'm thinking things like agroforestry holistic management of livestock on-site carbon-based resources such as Fallen trees, Ian in your opinion is there feasibility or even profitability and some of these system.

Ian McSweeney:

[56:32] Oh yeah yeah, completely end and that's why you know the stakeholders part of the stakeholders for agrarian trust our existing Land Trust because existing Land Trust own, either it's on quite a bit of farmland or own farmland and a vast majority of the cases are prohibiting those development conversion, but really not doing much more beyond that so let them and encourage them and appreciate them doing that work because that is foundational, but how do you go beyond that to really engage in the Land Management and stewardship in a way that's meaningful for true, psychological Health soil building Community Building off of all the above so it takes multiple organizations to accomplish that there's really very few. You can do it all in a very trust is not Endeavor to do it all we never to create a structure that. In partnership with existing land trust and others we can go much deeper than the work presently does.

Christopher D'Alessandro:

[57:34] Inline of giving Farmers access to land what about giving them access to things like say a commercial kitchen space for processing value-added Goods or and inspected processing facility for poultry or other livestock. Scaling Processing With Land Trust Vertical Integration?

[57:47] Farming model I use chickens to prepare Garden spaces to build really rich compost in record time but the feasibility of scaling this type of poultry base system or another model.

[57:58] Is really dependent on being able to make money as you scale it and since there's virtually no processing facilities for poultry in my state.

[58:05] Do you think there's potential for some type of vertical integration that would allow for making money off of building this really amazing soil.

[58:14] Maybe you could even look like having an egg washing machine with a walk-in cooler or having a certified kitchen for making jams and sauces and other value-added I'd.

Ian McSweeney:

[58:24] Yeah there's possibility of that it's capital-intensive it's dealing with present systems that exist but yeah there's possibilities, coworker Jamie pattern who's at the grind trust with work with for years she's also at Mount Graceland Frost in Massachusetts mod Graceland trough, they protected on Farmland but they saw the need to do more than acquired a building to build a coop, Food Market in they partnered with Plum incubator and educational centers to help train Farms as well so that's how do we go beyond and through partnership, please capacity to go beyond the work that exists to think about. In system and how do we engage in the whole system work to bring about change.

Daniel Forkner:

[59:13] That's great I want to ask you about financing. Alternative Financing For Farmers

[59:22] Level through conservation easements and other things that can bring it down to its agricultural value. You still have a lot of people who want to get into farming their new there may be a young farmer and they may not have very much in, they don't have a lot of money they don't have a lot of assets.

[59:39] To use as collateral for loans is there an opportunity in this Commons base approach that you talked about where you partner investors with landowners and farmers.

[59:47] Some of these people who would make great Farmers but just have no access to credit to get some kind of alternative financing what does that look like.

Ian McSweeney:

[59:56] Yeah to our Focus for the grain trust is these localized Farm Commons would own the land. And then provide secure least 10 year old. And security length of time difference States a state or what is allowed for a lease agreement. You know as long as is allowed so in some states around the country that would be 99 years with a. Rolling renewal so it's pretty close to fermented ownership without the department and ownership and if that lease also provides Equity Building in the other ways around the farm business Enterprise around social and environmental. Markers of growth and success then. Farmer can build equity and grow the business without having to take on the acquisition costs and have a lease Arrangement that would be. Much lower cost of Entry that any. Purchase cost and really favor their building the business and environmental investments in lieu of these payments. They could be investing in the business and in the soil and Community engagement.

[1:01:08] So that's the way we are going cross will work is is the lower the barrier of Entry by. Partnering with other land for us to do the easements to lower the value that agrarian cross taking on the financing to acquire the land and then providing out very low cost. Or without cost leases with agreements of other types of farm Investments that benefit the whole. And give these Farmers you know long-term land security that they can operate on the farm for their whole career in 99 years is going to be longer than anyone's career so they then have an ass that at the end they can sell. Take your ass down to their children so that's how we're working. There are others some Farmland investment organization some better than others better being kind of considering and prioritizing Armour equity and, priorities and soil Health but there are some Farmland investment organizations that are. Being that Matchmaker of providing upfront Capital either through connecting. Wealthy individuals or organizations or raising money to acquire lands and then giving Farmers a path to acquire that land.

[1:02:25] And there's more interesting growth in that sector that's not what we're intending to do though what we're intending to do is this, permanent ownership by this localized Farm Commons entity and then a long-term long being as long as possible given state laws a long-term secure 10 year lease Arrangement on the land, farmer.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:02:48] Interesting and in real quick kind of off. Agrarian Lawyer Network

[1:02:57] You did mention the attorneys the I think you mentioned the sustainable economies Law Center is this part of The Agrarian lawyer Network that is on your website about connecting people with attorneys and. If someone out there is an attorney or lawyer.

[1:03:22] What's all involved in that and how would they get involved.

Ian McSweeney:

[1:03:25] Yes a good question so The Agrarian lawyers network is a couple things so it's it's one is building out these models that were discussing around localized Farm Commons and then being. Completely transparent in a way that is educational and awareness building in that as we develop these models we will share them out. Provide workshops post everything on a website provide educational opportunities through this agrarian lawyers Network, foreign by the attorneys and legal organizations involve to train and raise awareness around the country of these models and are models and some other models that we see are, Innovative around the world there's some great similar-type models that have been going on for a number of years in Europe, and that's part of what we're modeling our Farm Common structure around. We have links to those in a website as well but it's there to share these models out as part of their grandma.

[1:04:27] Another part is to bring together this network of lawyers around the country because the sustainable economies Law Center is california-based the others mention there are in conservation laws, Foundation that's in Boston and Vermont law school and others so there's some that are kind of founding members of the cigrand lawyers Network. But it does not reach every state in the country. And every state has its own laws so we're really trying to build out a network of attorneys who can you know Provide support. Two people in every state and be licensed and understand the laws of every state so those needing how.

[1:05:16] Engage in the work to connecting to the Grand lawyers Network.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:05:20] So The Agrarian lawyers network is a way to connect people with attorneys around the country they're not doing pro bono work right this would be a way to connect client with attorneys.

Ian McSweeney:

[1:05:31] Correct yes.

[1:05:33] A way to connect people with attorneys around the country also in the sharing of the models and the template documents and structures, some people can just pick up these documents either from Gray lawyers Network or other organizations we are building out kind of a resource Library. For this now that you can go on and take models and documents and structures download them and then connect with. Local attorney to find those for state law where you are.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:06:04] So when a lot of people think about agriculture obviously they think of rural communities places outside the city but. Urban Farming

[1:06:11] Are there a lot of opportunities in urban farming and agriculture in urban communities and does agrarian trust work with groups doing that type of work.

Ian McSweeney:

[1:06:20] Yeah so there's two huge opportunity in urban areas more of the rural American image of Agriculture is now as we discussed the board of people it's large aggregated sites farm from the seat of a tractor.

[1:06:35] And not really growing food for people and not connecting people with land and food so yeah Urban agriculture. In vacant Lots rooftops Farmland within close proximity to urban areas is a huge opportunity there and that's another.

[1:06:53] Areas that land conservation groups and land trust in general are really not focus there's a handful that are. But you know and there's some interest in the kind of urban Gardens but very little interest in production agriculture to feed people in urban areas, there's a great. Organization the urban farm Institute in Boston they're the only Urban Land Trust focused on land ACCESS food production. To feed the people who live in that area around the country so there's this huge need an opportunity to engage in that work.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:07:32] One big issue that comes up when you're talking about Urban farming is a lot of urban soil is contaminated with lead.

[1:07:39] I just talked to someone in Atlanta who works with parks and and helps build Parks here in Atlanta they just spent. $350,000 or whatever it was to clean up a little bit of lead in the soil and then assume liability because they're now transporting that led somewhere and if something happens to it there now on the hook.

[1:07:56] Imagine that that's a pretty big deterrent or especially if we're talking about nonprofit organization to have limited funds to try and tackle that issue.

Ian McSweeney:

[1:08:06] Definitely isn't the reality is we lose farmland for develop.

[1:08:13] Farmland soils are bulldozed been trucked off and sold out swear that a lot of times in urban areas the ground simply have to be cap. And you're growing in raised beds with soil brought in from elsewhere. You know the location for the urban agriculture the access to sand and water and Community are the benefits there but yeah growing in the ground is not a possibility of any Urban centers. Addressing Climate Change?

Daniel Forkner:

[1:08:41] We discussed eat last week and how because of climate change some regions of the world are going to become more.

[1:08:48] Summer going to become more dry and a lot of places are going to get hotter and these changes are going to have an impact on our ability to grow crops in certain places.

[1:08:57] And I'm curious when it comes to determining where to conserve land and provide long-term access for farmers do you think that climate change is considered enough in terms of how it might change the local conditions of a place going forward.

Ian McSweeney:

[1:09:11] No equity in a word we're still on us on a national stage we are debating whether climate change is real so we're not even at the point of, understanding the reality that is around us everyday that is so you know any farmer will tell you it's it's real in the extreme weather events in the change in seasons, but we kind of culturally and where our priorities are are not there, so yeah we we need to focus more on that a great number of urban development areas are in parts of the country that the lack water, and other natural resources and work for exceeding the natural capacity to support the people that live in those areas so.

[1:09:56] That's going to drive up the cost of land even more in some areas that's going to drive up the cost of water and other resources and other are so part of that. Answer is how do we acquire protect and ensure that Farmland is going to be available for production. In areas because of the changing climate and how that is going to influence migration of people. And growth and development and cost of land. But then how do we take out the burden of ownership to allow Farmers to invest in things that build in resilience and mitigation for. Climate event so building organic matter in soil building in adequate watering infrastructure High tunnels greenhouses row covers all these things that can help. Either bring in water where needed or reduce the severe rain events from washing out crop II, moderate temperature swings that exist now that we the last two years are New Hampshire we've had snow in end of April early May that's killed a lot of early season crops people put out. On a fruit tree flowering. So we had big losses in the Northeast because of that so farmers need to have more money to invest in their Farm Enterprises to mitigate against climate change and extreme weather events.

[1:11:22] And one way to do that is to reduce the cost of land ownership to those bombers.

Christopher D'Alessandro:

[1:11:28] So I was wondering in line with a t and you mentioned obviously before that the price of Farmland in urban areas is much higher than in some of these rule areas so is there a rough percentage as far as.

[1:11:40] The breakdown of what you guys are looking to invest in in terms of urban centers versus Suburban areas verse even rule settings.

Ian McSweeney:

[1:11:48] It's really what's driving the priorities are of where we focus and nishal. Initial Areas For Farm Commons Projects

[1:11:53] Farm Commons will be where there is a significant need and at the same time there's Community interest and support and Community being farmers, Peters True Value local farms other organizations that are engaged and support the work. Whether it's land trusts to conserve the land with easements Food Systems organizations to support other aspects of the food system but where can we engage in the work.

[1:12:21] Will have Partners to a receptive to our involvement and can collaborate in a way to amplify the work and really think about the whole, and engage in the whole picture of things what we're doing right now is focusing on for maybe 6, localized areas that were building up these models first so we're less focused on kind of cost of lands other factors like that, just because we're starting small enough now that we want to step into areas where where we have some. And where we can create significant benefit through the impact we create on the ground.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:12:59] Was speaking about going forward what do you most excited for in terms of the future of agrarian trust you have any new projects or initiatives plan. Agrarian Trust Work Going Foward

Ian McSweeney:

[1:13:07] To really most excited to bring about these localized Farm Commons and most excited for our, word exploring in in developing creating some of these in Tennessee Kentucky West Virginia area and really excited about that, there's a huge need there there's lack of others doing any aspects of this work there and there's great. Agricultural communities there in need of Partnerships and collaborations to bring about greater good. So yeah looks good for that true that works planning different fundraising tools some with existing online crowdsourced investment, entities and funders to collaborate in a way to focus some of their work. On our mission and our goals around bring about these localized Farm communities. So you know raising significant money in partnership with them to really create this impact on the ground his excited.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:14:08] Well I'm certainly excited to see the change that y'all make and for anybody who's listening a farmer or a land owner or someone who works in a land trust and. Next Steps

[1:14:18] They're fully on board with the mission they want to get involved maybe it's a farmer who wants to participate in one of these models.

[1:14:27] What's the next step how can they be a part of what grain trust is doing how can they be informed of all the things that you are doing and the changes taking place.

Ian McSweeney:

[1:14:37] Yeah well reach out and connect to be in touch with me at Ian. Agrarian go on a website agrarian Frost are or we're just in the process of revamping the website as we speak so I'll have a lot more content coming soon.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:14:53] You already have so many resources on that I've spent a few hours going to different things on the website and I don't think I even made a dent in all the resources and reports that you have on there.

Ian McSweeney:

[1:15:02] Yeah well that's that we really want to be and have done a great job of raising the issue and sharing what exists but really need to know how deeply dive into the work at hand and the structure some of that and asked you some of that content. In a way that when you are a farmer it's easy for you to navigate. And find what you need and create an understanding of new models and who to connect with and why.

[1:15:27] Find website take a look email me be in touch would love to connect and talk to anyone interested.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:15:34] Also Chris I'll pick you up or our land Symposium in southeast we just got to get David to come down from New York and then we'll make a party out of it.

Christopher D'Alessandro:

[1:15:44] Haha right that sounds great I'd really.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:15:46] Is there anything else that you think I listener should know.

Ian McSweeney:

[1:15:51] Just get in touch during a website sign up for a news weather going to Facebook page like the page just you know get connected and start a conversation.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:16:02] Well thank you both of you.

Ian McSweeney:

[1:16:04] Thank you for reaching out.

Christopher D'Alessandro:

[1:16:06] Awesome thank you so much Ian and thank you Daniel is great talk with y'all.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:16:10] To David welcome back.

David Torcivia:

[1:16:12] Happy to be back there in you.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:16:14] Are you ready to talk a little bad news some more.

David Torcivia:

[1:16:17] So I'm here Daniel.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:16:18] Well David I think we don't have that much bad news I actually really enjoyed speaking with Ian and there's a couple of things that Ian talked about this stuck out to me. One of the first things that really captured my attention was when he said that the health of sustainable Farms depends on the health of the community that they serve I think this is something that we tend to overlook when we talk about sustainable agriculture. When we talk about organic foods is that these systems cannot exist without a community that actually supports them.

[1:16:50] Because you cannot have a sustainable Farm if these Farms have to integrate with an industrial economy in order to profit in order to pay back exorbitant loans.

[1:17:01] Without a community who can support these farms and help buy into a local economy.

[1:17:08] You just can't have them and as we've talked about in his we're going to continue to talk about without sustainable farms and local communities we can't fight back against the destructive forces of industrial agriculture we need healthy communities.

David Torcivia:

[1:17:22] Daniel I think we can carry that idea pass just industrial agriculture but really to our entire industrialized economy. Yes there are many things in our economy in which we depend on this industrialization. But the extent in the consumers and that goes along with it are what gets us into these messes for lack of a better word in the first place and any sort of future that envisions a alternative to this. Heavy production heavy consumption with no I to sustainability weather that's agriculture. Or whether that's General consumer products or anything beyond that I think is definitely a positive step forward in the right direction.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:17:59] You're right David this industrial economy is very Broad and it goes beyond just agriculture but it is so much related to this land access problem because this is what the industrial economy seeks to do is push people off their land. So that it can consolidate that land into commodity Farms among many other things which makes everyone at risk.

[1:18:20] And this industrial economy that you talking about that has implications for the way that we're going to deal with this climate change going forward and I like the way that you even responded to that question about are we. Adequately inappropriately addressing climate change.

David Torcivia:

[1:18:35] Well I think the answer that very obviously no not right now at least unless society-wide scale but you know like Ian is suggested these small groups these communities people are looking for better password.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:18:48] And those may be the best option.

[1:19:10] Factory farms increase and concentrate the archaeological risks of food production a farm on the other hand disburses the echo logical risks involved in.

[1:19:34] Between animals and Acres production and carrying capacity a good Farm does not put at risk the health Wellness of the land the water in the air.

[1:19:44] And quote.

[1:19:46] But of course as Ian pointed out these good Farms cannot exist if the land itself is inaccessible and too expensive for Farmers to access.

David Torcivia:

[1:19:56] To Daniel this is an episode that really devoted a lot of time to what can we do but maybe we can boil down some of these thoughts these long back-and-forth questions to discuss who you had with Ian with the land trust and with Chris. What Can We Do?

[1:20:08] And summarize it just as a couple of simple points so what can we do.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:20:13] Actually something that you even said makes me a little bit hopeful.

[1:20:17] For lack of a better word and that's when he talked about where agrarian trust is focusing its initial efforts.

[1:20:24] Ian mentioned that they're focusing on areas where they can have the biggest impact. To implement new and Innovative models for sustainable communities which they can then replicate those models in different areas of the world but where they're starting is where they have the most support.

[1:20:47] And passionate about local consumption and beyond that where are the organizations that can support new models so these are.

[1:21:10] And to me that's very encouraging because when we talked about the consumer having the ultimate vote with the dollar.

[1:21:17] When you think about a consumer trying to quote on quote vote with his or her dollar at a Walmart store I mean how much impact can we really have is individuals but we're looking at this kind of from the opposite angle which is.

David Torcivia:

[1:21:30] Yeah and I always hate that idea that we as consumers have no power at button. There is something there it's much less what I mean ultimately in this scenario if you're just buying what you think is a more sustainable product you're ultimately still feeling that consumers in that industry that be gets all these problems in the first place.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:21:46] Exactly David and that's kind of why I like this angle which is we're not.

David Torcivia:

[1:22:28] Work out your lawn and build a farm.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:22:30] Honestly David that's not a bad idea I mean how much energy and inputs going to preserving beautiful Lawns when a you could be growing some food.

David Torcivia:

[1:22:40] I've honestly I've got a whole like being prepared on lawns and Mom culture now is not the time nor the place on the end of a very long episode already but it is something for sure for future, Topix but in that same since no understanding the value of our land is so important.

[1:22:56] Ian spend a lot of time talking about this and the way in which we value Land Based on its quote highest and best use this way of looking at land.

[1:23:05] Incentivizes the short-term extraction the way we value land needs to fundamentally change.

[1:23:12] Look at land in value at higher when we destroy it to make these short-term profits to build these unsustainable developments communities whatever it is.

[1:23:19] Rather than valuing it for its ability to grow our food the very base thing that we need for life and to do so sustainably. As well as other ecological benefits like carbon sequestration soil Health clean water preventing is runoff that pollutes our water systems and ultimately find its way back into our food system and ultimately affecting our own health. Well then we have a tremendously broken and sentence structure and we talked about this all the time on this show broken incentives creating you switch problems.

[1:23:45] And then people wondering why is this a problem in the first place like where did this come from and Away didn't find the symptoms of these larger systemic issues.

[1:23:52] And this is were always trying to get down to the idea that it's not just enough to point of this and slap on some Band-Aid or subsidies or welfare whatever it is to fix this when they alternate sources of these problems are so much deeper and stronger and a better with an air culture or economy. And often times even in-laws itself so whatever we can do to step back look at this from a systems perspective and realize where it is that we messed up.

[1:24:14] Land the value of land use of land in our food the origin of our life.

[1:24:20] I think it's just about the best possible way that we can get down to where the sources of these issues are really coming from anything that values land and a better and more responsible sustainable way.

[1:24:31] That's a great step towards more productive change.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:24:36] And it's not necessarily going to be easy you know it's pretty easy to Value land when all you're doing is multiplying.

[1:25:04] Starworld to simple equation simple formulas but I don't think we need to go on David.

David Torcivia:

[1:25:09] No I agree we all can bog everything down on the show and statistics and numbers and math and really in the end of this is conversation is about the land itself and understanding that there's a value there that doesn't need to be measured or Quantified.

[1:25:21] Because it's something that we all fundamentally understand as members and citizens as beings on this Earth.

[1:25:28] In a brings us to the end of another episode here on ashes ashes.

[1:25:33] If you'd like to learn more about any of things we discussed today but sources or at the find the website or The Agrarian trust you can do all that as well as read a full transcript of this episode on our website.

[1:25:44] Ashes ashes. Org.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:25:47] A lot of time and research goes into making these episodes possible and we will never use ads to support this show we will never purchase ads as effective as that might be.

[1:25:58] To crowd your news feeds so if you like this show and you'd like us to keep going you can support us by giving us a review or recommending us to a friend.

[1:26:08] Also we have an email address it's contact at ashes ashes. Orgy and we encourage you to send us your thoughts positive or negative or even.

[1:26:18] And we appreciate them.

David Torcivia:

[1:26:19] You can also find us on your favorite social media Network at ashes ashes cast.

[1:26:25] Next week we got a show about automation work jobs in the fundamental questions of what it means to exist and survive in our modern world we're really excited about this one and we hope you'll tune in until then. This is ashes ashes.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:26:39] Bye.