Last year, PCC Farmland Trust launched Advancing Farm Sustainability (AFS), a micro-grant program that supports farmers in their adoption of new approaches to sustainable land management. The purpose of the program is to provide the financial support our farmer tenants and landowners need to protect and steward the natural resources on their farms.
One year in to the program, we have been able to award 8 grants that support projects that improve soil, air, water, and/or habitat on our conserved farms. But what does “sustainability” really mean? In order to ensure funded projects fulfill the purpose of our program, we rank them against a variety of criteria. First, we measure whether or not the project helps achieve goals outlined in the landowner’s farmland stewardship plan, which we often develop together. We then assess the scale and the length of the natural resource impact of the project. Next, we make sure the proposed project aligns with the National Organic Practices guidelines on farm practices or biodiversity. If the project institutes a change in current practices, or leverages additional funding sources or volunteer time, even better.
Below are some examples of projects we have funded over the last year…
Invasive pest management
Funded item(s): Mower
Sustainable practice: Targeted mowing helps control pests’ habitat without the use of insecticides
Invasive weed management
Sustainable practice: Fencing allows for targeted grazing of livestock to eliminate unwanted plants without the use of herbicides such as Roundup
Soil fertility improvement
Funded item(s): Organic soil amendments, manure spreader, labor
Sustainable practice: Soil amendments like manure help increase soil productivity naturally
Pollinator hedgerow installation
Sustainable practice: Flowering trees and shrubs attract pollinators, and when planted as a hedgerow, serve as a buffer to protect water quality
Stay tuned for updates on our current AFS projects in the coming weeks!