Land For Good’s origins began in 2004 as an organization to focus on helping older farmers with farm succession. With years of experience with the farming community, our team learned that such planning assistance was sorely needed, and that farm “linking” was not sufficient. We initiated a Farm Legacy Program, a unique coaching approach that offered ongoing support and guidance to farm families planning for succession and transfer.
Before long, it became clear that other owners and managers of agricultural land needed similar education and assistance. And on the other side of the equation, farm seekers were eager to access farmland but had even less support and fewer resources to help them find and get onto land. More services were needed, along with public education, improved public policies, and a fresh examination of agricultural land tenure issues and challenges. Our programs and reputation were established regionally and nationally.
In 2009 we hosted Changing Lands, Changing Hands, the first-ever national conference on farm and ranch access, tenure and transfer. Our staff grew to include Field Agents on the ground in each New England state. Most Field Agents are or have been farmers themselves. Partnerships and collaborations blossomed.
In 2010, we received our first USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) grant. This substantial award, along with numerous other grants and contracts from within New England and beyond, firmly positioned Land For Good as the go-to resource on these issues. Through three BFRDP Land Access Projects (2010-2021) more than 1,000 beginning farmers accessed land or improved their readiness to acquire farms. Over 5,000 inquirers received education resources. Additionally, 100 senior farmers were trained on succession planning, and another 900 senior farmers received additional education to help with their farm transfer.
Our leadership evolved and staff were added as we took on more projects — from land access policy in New England to farm succession research, to professional and network development for attorneys, financial advisors, land trusts, and real estate professionals. Increasingly, our work included exploration of innovative land access and transfer methods, and policy focused on land access for disenfranchised groups and nontraditional landowners.
In 2017, we hosted the second national Changing Lands, Changing Hands conference, this time in cooperation with USDA. Two years later, we held a national Farm Link Clinic with representatives from 26 farm link programs from across the country. Numerous publications and a resource-rich website drew thousands of users annually. Groups across the country sought information and training on our various methods, from the Field Agent model to our Farm Succession School curriculum.
Since 2019, organizations in more than two dozen states have received training or technical assistance from Land For Good staff. With our devoted board of directors, our staff weathered the pandemic years with new online delivery methods and tools, and a heightened emphasis on land justice. We conducted organizational assessments and trainings with racial equity consultants.
2021 began the multi-year Land for Farmers Project (2021-2024), funded by BFRDP to improve training and technical assistance for beginning farmers across New England to achieve and secure farmland access by enhancing their knowledge, resources and support to access land, and increasing the number of farmers of color who have secure land tenure. In 2023 we embarked on an equity-infused planning process to refine the organization’s strategic approach.
And we look ahead to 2024 when we celebrate our 20th Anniversary.