Soil and how it is being treated, agricultural land and how it is used and by whom – such questions did not raise mainstream interest in the past. But things are changing, public awareness is increasing and promising new initiatives are popping up.
One of these new initiatives is Lenteland, a foundation based in the Netherlands developing regenerative community farms. Its aim is to reconnect citizens with farmers fostering a bottom-up transformation of the current agricultural system that has become one of the major emitters of greenhouse gases, consuming enormous amounts of water, destroying soil and biodiversity and – in the long run – putting our food security and food culture in danger.
The Lenteland Foundation is based on two pillars: the promotion of a regenerative agriculture favouring profitability in social, ecological and economic terms, as well as the promotion of land as a common good, not as something that should be held privately. The Foundation aims to facilitate the acquisition of land, that is being held and managed by farmers in cooperation with local communities on a long-term basis. The land should generate a fair income for the farmers and should provide communities with local and healthy food.
Each Lenteland farm has legal entity in form of a cooperative. The cooperative serves as an umbrella organisation for holding the land and for operating the farming activities. The Lenteland Foundation itself provides financial resources to purchase the land and to make sure that it remains in community hands forever. Once the land has been acquired, the cooperative starts giving out co-ownership certificates to local citizens and other stakeholders. The collected funds are used for paying back the loan to the Lenteland Foundation. Like this, gradually the land is being handed over from the foundation to the local community.
“Co-ownership is set up in such a way that the mission and the common interest are leading. Lenteland’s Articles of Association guarantee that each farm will remain true to its mission and that land speculation is foreclosed, with the goal to ensure food security and -sovereignty. Once the refinancing of a farm is completed through crowdfunding and the money has flowed back to the foundation, Lenteland has regained the resources to purchase a new plot and develop a new regenerative community farm.”
At a glance, Lenteland is aiming to secure land for farming for the coming seven generations, to provide access to land for farmers who follow regenerative principles, to create socially, ecologically and economically thriving communities. In concrete terms, the Foundation aims to set up five farms by 2023 and more than 100 by 2030.
Ambitious goals, especially when taking into account that for new projects to emerge locals need to get engaged by the mission and business plan of the local farm. This engagement is key to organise an successful crowdfunding campaign. In addition the farm can only thrive when there are also people willing to get involved with the services and activities of the farm by becoming customers, members and volunteers.
So far, Lenteland has acquired its first two farms. The first project emerged across the border in nearby Belgium: the farmers at the Strackxhoeve farm in Flanders started their activity in late 2021. At the second farm, Erve Kiekenbos in the Gelderland province in the centre of the Netherlands, farmers started in May and are currently preparing the market garden and building community. .
We look forward to seeing what happens next – to be continued!
Further information Lenteland can be found on the Foundation’s website at https://www.lente.land
(for now in Dutch only) and watch the short documentary (with English subtitles) below: