Commons Land

Innovative models are needed to provide land for the next generation of farmers: Sharing Our Roots is co-creating one of those models: Commons Land.

Sharing Our Roots is part of a national conversation surrounding the issue of agriculture land access and reframing solutions. Minnesota Land Commons seeks to support community led, regional food systems with a focus on serving BIPOC and emerging farmers. “Commons” ownership makes land access affordable, sustainable and productive for generations of future farmers. Land access for a growing tapestry of people who farm through Sharing Our Roots provides a model of what is possible on other farms. It’s a practical map to navigate structural inequity in agriculture.

Commons Land, a new initiative, will expand and formalize this approach across the region. Its purpose is to facilitate the transfer of farmland by strategically acquiring and stewarding a network of farms in the region using a commons based approach. This will open the door to aspiring farmers, particularly those of color, who have been separated and kept from land throughout this country’s history. This is a paradigm shift from the privately owned property model in place today to a community owned and managed model where land is no longer a commodity.

Instead of individual ownership with its associated debt and risk, farmers cooperatively support each other’s efforts within Commons Land. Reciprocity occurs on many levels at both the farm and in the local governance of this new initiative. Sharing the land, sharing resources, sharing knowledge, sharing an economy. The listening and mutual exchange of information makes for strong partners in governing the commons, and stronger community on the farm. Immigrant farmers, like the Latinx and East African farmers of Northfield and Faribault, MN, bring a life history of organizing and farming as a community. They prefer this over farming alone.

Through Commons Land, farm land is acquired and legally taken out of the private sector, to be permanently held as a 501c25 or 501c2. This allows the land to be used as a commons, with the purpose of growing healthy food through regenerative practices. Equitable access is the goal for the participating farmers allowing them long term leases to farm the land with affordable, yet flexible terms that reflect and serve both the farmers’ and the land’s needs. Moreover, the Commons Land is a democratic, self-governing body of stakeholders that includes organizers, organizations for aspiring farmers and environmentalists.