Ken Meter: Building A Local Food Economy: 2

Building a local food economy also depends upon retaining local farms, and encouraging the development of new ones. In part 2, Ken Meter outlines the problem with the diminishing availability of affordable farmland. He also shares a couple of stories about two enterprising community efforts: one that makes land more accessible for farming; the other, that helps farmers and local businesses benefit by partnering together.

Related Information: Real Wealth Nations: Creating A Caring Economics (book)
Farmland Information Center (find out about farmlands in your State); Leopold Center For Sustainable Agriculture—Buying Food Grown In And Around Black Hawk County Keeps Millions Of Dollars In Local Economy
University Of Northern Iowa Local Food Project

Comments

  1. says

    Yes, land is expensive but here are some thoughts:

    1) Do something else for a few years to save up the funds to buy land. People used to apprentice. They didn’t just start out from nothing. I worked for a while at other things saving up to buy land and then gradually shifting over to farming. The idea that everything has to happen instantly is the problem. Patience is a virtue and mandatory for farming. Practice patience.

    2) Don’t compete with the developers. There is a lot of lower cost land that is less desirable for the developers but makes fine farm land. This is the second thing I did. This is an important issue because not only is the initial cost of land high where the developers congregate but the long term costs of ownership are high in the form of real estate taxes and dealing with regulations and zoning. Best to deal with this from the start. There are lots of places where land is not so expensive. Today with the correction in the housing market it is even more true.

    3) Draw circles on a map. You don’t have to be right outside the cities where the land prices, and real estate taxes, are the highest. Instead draw circles around your proposed markets and look at the places the circles overlap. Shade the map by land prices (which tend to also reflect taxes). Next make off zoning issues – No need to be where you’re not wanted. We bought mountain land further from the city in an area that put us where there was lower cost land and excellent driving to various markets within an hour of us.

    It takes a little planning but that’s true of any big project. Starting a farm is a big project no matter how small the farm.

    Cheers,

    -Walter
    Sugar Mountain Farm
    in the mountains of Vermont
    http://SugarMtnFarm.com/blog/

  2. says

    I agree, Jean Ann. I think what is important is to start the conversations between farmers (of any age) and the local businesses. So many institutions are importing their food and so many farmers are exporting their food. Starting a conversation, growing a relationship between these two factions is important toward a local food economy that ultimately may be beneficial to the community, as was exemplified in Blackhawk County, Iowa. Is this happening in your community at all?

  3. Jean Ann Van Krevelen says

    This is a great clip that identifies a big problem for the future of small scale food production. Although it is focused on young new farmers, there are plenty of “older” new farmers who have the same issues.

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