After a decade of growth and growing pains, flood recovery and relocation (into a development zone) Featherstone Farm still owns only a small percentage (<20%) of the fields in its vegetable rotation. The rest are leased on a year-to-year basis (the result of commercial development pressure, or at least the perception of pressure). Clearly this is an unsustainable proposition for an organic farm; quality soil management requires a very long term commitment that can only properly
be made with ownership.
So last fall I applied for a one year appointment as a “Senior Fellow in Integrated Agricultural Systems” (this is the title on my new- and first ever- business card!) at MISA- the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture- at the U of M. My proposal involves working with a great team of people statewide to develop a land access model- based around agricultural land trusts in development in other states- to help farms like Featherstone (and beginning farmers everywhere) acquire prime farmland at affordable rates. Three weeks ago I received word that I had received this award.
Again, I will be writing more about this as time goes on. But suffice it to say that I will be working on this for 20 hours or so a week through the late winter and into the spring, until fieldwork at Featherstone Farm again takes over all my time and attention. Then I will be returning to the work- and hopefully making good on a goal of securing some of FF’s rented acres- sometime again this fall.