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Disappearing Farmland

January 14, 2011

All over the country, family farms are being sold to commercial and residential developers or consolidated and bought up by bigger industrial farms. Every minute we’re losing acres of farm and ranch land. This makes it especially challenging for new farmers who don’t have the luxury of of inheriting land to start a farm. Now Serious Farms is also caught up in the land crisis.

When we started, Serious Farms was blessed to be able to share land with Mystic Springs CSA. However, now that the Mystic Springs farmers are moving to a new farm, we find ourselves nomadic again, in search of land to rent. Looking around at the landscape, there are farms and open lands galore, so it is doubly frustrating when our search for available farm land to rent turns out, so far, fruitless.

Have no fear, we are reaching out to people throughout the area to help us find 5-20 acres of land to raise our chickens and grow vegetables. Yes, this is an obstacle, but it is only that- an obstacle. We’ve already overcome so many other obstacles, and we’re working our way through this one. Perhaps it can be comforting to know that we are not the only new farmers to struggle with access to land. There is a movement of new farmers, each solving the land problem for themselves. Some farmers form a collective and pool resources to buy land. Some find abandoned land and simply squat. Some find older farmers who feel strongly about their land remaining as farmland and are therefore willing to lease out part of their land with the intention of selling it to the new farmer once they’ve established themselves.

At first, I was afraid to post about all of this. Afraid we would make our customers worry. However our model and ethic has always been one of transparency, and this too is part of starting a farm. We know we’ll find some solution to the land problem, and we are looking forward to raising delicious and healthy food for you. We are still planning toward the 2011 growing season- buying vegetable seeds, designing chicken tractors for egg-laying hens, and planning out cover crops. Besides the new CSA shares of chicken and eggs, we will also participate in the Selinsgrove Farmers Market, and offer fresh vegetables. We look forward to sharing Part Two of this post with you soon- our own interesting way of solving the land problem.

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