Farmland Stewardship: Unpacking the Practice

farmland stewardship
Our Farmland Stewardship Manager, Rusty, walking the fields with Farmer Amy Moreno-Sills of Four Elements Farm.

Once we successfully conserve a farm, our work is far from over. To ensure the land we protect thrives into the future, we support our farmer partners in their pursuit of sustainable and organic farming practices through our stewardship program. From annual monitoring to stewardship planning and restoration, this program reflects our commitment not only to the land itself, but to our collaboration and partnership with farmers for the long haul.

Below are four core elements of our Stewardship Program:

Stewardship Planning

A stewardship plan is a flexible tool that allows us to look at a farm’s unique operations within the context of its natural resources and conservation easement. With support from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and local Conservation Districts, we tailor each plan so that it outlines shared goals for sustaining the protected farm’s natural resources into the future.

Annual Monitoring

Once a year, our farmland stewardship manager arranges a monitoring visit on each of our protected farms. Each visit typically involves touring the property and documenting any changed conditions. Ideally, the landowner or farm manager participates so that they may ask questions and discuss current land uses and plans for the future. Our stewardship manager then generates a report, which helps us create an evolving narrative of the property.

Sustainable Farming Practices & Restoration

In order to ensure the land we protect can thrive into the future, we support farmers in their efforts to improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and soil health on their farms. We provide a variety of resources and assistance, ranging from volunteer work parties to connections with technical advisers.  In addition, we recently launched a micro-grant program, Advancing Farm Sustainability, which allows us to provide resources to support the implementation of our shared stewardship strategy.

Events

An important element of our mission as an organization includes educating our community about farming. One of the core ways we do that is by hosting events on farms, giving our audiences a chance to meet real farmers, see their food up close, and get their hands dirty. In the past, we’ve partnered with landowners to host harvest festivals, farm tours, and events through our On The Farm series. In addition to community education, on-farm events are great opportunities for farms to gain business exposure and reach new audiences.

To learn more about our Stewardship Program, contact Rusty Milholland, Farmland Stewardship Manager at rusty.milholland@pccfarmlandtrust.org.