Despite the growing number of land-based initiatives working for agroecological farming – 16 new organisations have been set up in Europe in the last 5 years – little is known about organisations like us. Surveying ourselves and other similar groups to gain a better understanding, not only of each other’s work and mission, but of the individual and collective resources and tools we need to support and carry out our work, is something we hope will be of real value and benefit to others. And ultimately, through the support of the Erasmus+ funded project, Learning Platform, will strengthen and build up the resources available at a European level for anyone working in the area of access to land.
The questions we asked focused on four main areas: general information - legal, governance, mission etc; priority capacity needs to engage stakeholders; key resource and capacity needs in relation to access to land activity (land acquisition, facilitating contracts with farmers, land stewardship etc); and key learning resource needs.
Questions ranged from information gathering - how did your organisation get started? How is it legally structured and why? What are your achievements so far? – to specific targeted queries across a range of topics: what are your resource needs and priorities to effectively carry out and grow your work? What are the main challenges for access to land in your country? What is needed on the European level to help strengthen our collective platform?
Key findings range from internal priorities such as:
• Developing/refreshing financial and communication strategies
• Advocacy and lobbying – this is becoming increasingly important to all access to land initiatives, even if not explicitly within the remit of organisations’ legal mission: grassroots action needs supportive policy
To priorities around land and people:
• How to manage and finance land purchase and land sales
• How to assess economic viability of proposed farm businesses
• How to effectively assess the other contributions farms make (social, environmental)
• Understanding and applying conservation easements
• How to support generational renewal
• How to find new entrants and select the right candidates
Some important overarching needs also emerged:
• The need for a contemporary narrative about the importance of agroecological farming and generational renewal – to connect with stakeholders and engage the public we need people to understand why agroecology and access to land is so crucial
• The need for new models of land ownership to be developed and explored – innovation is needed to protect and secure more land for agroecological farming
The detailed level of information collated means we have a rich knowledge base from which to now develop subsequent resources. Expect to see and hear more about:
• A beginners’ kit for new access to land initiatives
• Handbooks on impact assessment tools and land acquisition
• Peer-to-peer mentoring
• Training events on land acquisition and land stewardship
• Country-based events
More details will be added as our programme is refined and developed so do check back here for more information.