Terre de Liens is a civic organisation which promotes land preservation and facilitates access to farmland for organic and peasant farmers in France.
Over 24000 citizens involved
Over €90 millions raised (investment and donations)
320 farmers established or maintained; thousands of farmers and future farmers advised and supported
5750 hectares of farmland preserved
Local work in all regions of France (20)
Terre de Liens was born in 2003 from the convergence of individuals with diverse backgrounds in people’s education, organic and biodynamic agriculture, ethical finance, solidarity-based economy and rural development.
According to its founding Charter, Terre de Liens’ aims are to:
> Preserve land and ensure it remains in effective agricultural use;
> Support access to land for farmers, in very practical ways;
> Enhance the development of grassroots farming, i.e. farms involved in local networks, marketing their produce directly to consumers and open to the local community;
> Promote community connections and solidarity in rural and urban areas, so as to foster collaboration around land use, as well as pool together tools, funds, and experiences;
> Foster public debate on land ownership, management and use.
Terre de Liens is a multi-faceted organisation composed of:
Not-for-profit associations: One national association, and 19 regional ones, united by a founding Charter and governance ties (we’re not a federation).
A private company limited by shares (Ltd), La Foncière:
It collects savings (shares of €103) from the public who adhere to values and goals set in the Terre de Liens Charter; it then buys agricultural land and buildings, which are rented out to farmers on long-term leases.
A Land Trust, La Fondation:
It collects donations (in cash or in kind) from individuals, companies (patronage) and public authorities. Like the Foncière, it then rents the farms it has acquired to farmers. It also has a more general mission of informing and mobilising citizens and other stakeholders.
Information and mobilisation activities: building public awareness of and support for access to land, by working with citizens, civil society organisations, companies and local authorities (including raising investment and donations);
Advisory services: assisting future farmers to find land, set up collective land ownership schemes, or become tenants on farms owned by Terre de Liens;
Direct land management: acquiring land and renting it to established or future farmers in the long run; taking good care of the natural environment (natural resources, land, landscapes); managing buildings;
Land stewardship: acquiring land and keeping it in agricultural use while being respectful of the environment; working with local authorities to develop sustainable farming practices and land stewardship; advocacy work
Collaborations with local authorities: informing them about land access issues and empowering them to be more pro-active on land management; cooperating with them for the establishment or maintenance of local farmers, for the development of a greenbelt, etc..
Farms owned and supported by Terre de Liens are located in all regions of France. They are diverse in size and in production: vegetables, dairy products, cereals and bread, fruits, pigs, poultry, sheep, beer, honey, etc. Almost all farms market their products locally through farm shops, local markets, shops or caterers or as part of community-supported agriculture schemes. Many also host a range of other social and economic activities: processing businesses, training and education, agro-tourism, etc.
A presentation of all TDL farms is available on our website (in French).
As of 2020, Terre de liens owns 219 farm estates, amounting to 5750 hectares, where 318 farmers are working. This has been made possible by the support of 24 600 members and investors, bringing over 90,000,000 Euros, as well as local inhabitants and local authorities. For 15 years, Terre de liens has experimented with ways of preserving and managing farmland as a commons.
Building large citizen mobilisation and support:
Terre de Liens has amassed support from 24,000 citizens, and made an even broader impact through awareness-raising activities. It has developed local groups and regional branches all over France. It has enabled citizens to mobilise their money - €83 million in investment and €9 million in donations to promote ecological agriculture, vibrant rural areas and environmental protection.
Securing access to land for 320 farmers and advising thousands:
About 320 farmers are now established on 220 farms (partially or fully) owned by Terre de Liens. Every year, Terre de Liens also advises and brings technical support to about 1000 farmers and future farmers wishing to find land, form collective ownership structures, farm on communal land etc.
Preserving agricultural land:
Altogether, Terre de Liens owns over 5750 hectares of land, which are meant to remain in organic and peasant farming in perpetuity. These 5750 hectares are thus removed from the commodity market and preserved for sustainable agricultural use. To go further with environmental protection, Terre de Liens and farmers agree on an environmental rural lease, that is a specific type of agricultural lease that includes legally binding environmental protection clauses.
Gaining political leverage:
Terre de Liens has increasingly received demands from local authorities, seeking to maintain agricultural activities, improve local supply, establish green belts, etc. It is also recognised by institutional stakeholders on issues such as setting-up young farmers, the development of local, organic agriculture and ethical finance based on citizens direct involvement.
Experimenting new ways of managing land as commons:
Terre de Liens brings together citizens, farmers, local authorities and other stakeholders in jointly defining and managing land use. It promotes land and agriculture as everybody’s business and has developed very practical ways for commoning around land: ethical investment with 0% financial return, crop tours, participatory workshops, etc.
Terre de Liens: removing land from the commodity market, and enabling organic and peasant farmers to settle in good conditions, a case study, Véronique Rioufol and Sjoerd Wartena, Terre de Liens, 2011, 16p
Véronique RIOUFOL, Securing access to land for new farmers, in Ecology and Farming, 1-2013, pp 19-23
Véronique RIOUFOL and Sjoerd WARTENA, The experience of Terre de Liens, France: a “laboratory” for managing farmland as commons?, case study, September 2013, 11p
Video presentation of Sjoerd Wartena, co-founder of TDL, for Our Land: A Symposium on Farmland Access in the 21st Century, Berkeley, 2014, 28’
Video interview of Sjoerd Wartena, co-founder of TDL, by Juliane Haufe and Joris van der Kamp of Future Farmers in the Spotlight, 2014, 26’
Short documentary about Anne Giraud and Rémi Lonjon, , two young farmers established on La Brigue, one of TDL farms, interviewed by Future farmers in the spotlight, 2014, 6’
The land, a common good, a documentary on Terre de liens, directed by Luba Vink and Aurélien Levêque, 2015, 52mn, in French, with English, Spanish, German, Portuguese or Polish sub-titles
10 rue Archinard