In order to protect farmland with the highest potential to benefit the environment, the community, and the local economy, we evaluate each property against four core criteria.
The capacity of a property to be farmed forever is dependent on the current state of the soil, access to water, and history of production or contamination. Our team combs through public data to consider soil quality, water availability, historical use, and future potential for growth. In addition, farms that are larger than the average size for their county will be more competitive for conservation.
We know that farm businesses do better when they are close to markets, and near other farms. But the location of a property can also be key to potential collaboration and funding opportunities. Working with community partners and stakeholders, we deploy sophisticated mapping and outreach processes to identify priority farmland for protection. We consider a variety of factors, from soil designation and land use policy to the value of the property to the broader community. This collaborative, technical, and strategic approach allows us to consolidate valuable resources and increase our rate of conservation success.
Potential for multiple benefits
Sustainable farming has the potential to be complementary to native habitat, restoration of waterways, flood mitigation, and even recreation. When farmland conservation stretches beyond local food and agriculture, it opens up opportunities for greater collaboration, public funding, and of course, community impact.
The most critical ingredient for a successful farmland conservation effort lies in the people that surround it. Mapping, soil samples, and restoration plans can only go so far without local political will, community involvement, and the partnership and perseverance of landowners. For us, project selection criteria isn’t just be about the characteristics of the land, it’s about building trust with the communities where we work, in support of a prosperous future for all of us.