Land trust called way to attract younger producers

Farm access is one area of research for Hannah Wittman, a professor in the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at the University of British Columbia.

The research has included farmland access particularly for newer people interested in farming who haven’t grown up on farms.

“We’ve also worked for a long time with Farm Folk-City Folk community farms program and the new food lands trust in B.C. to look at alternative ways for sustainable food systems in our landscape. One of the issues that we face here is it’s hard for young urban people to access land,” Wittman said.

Accessing farmland for younger people can be difficult for several reasons.

“They don’t have the capital to buy it and our farmland, especially near urban centres, which is some of the best farmland in British Columbia, is often priced at either residential or higher than residential rates because of land speculation,” said Wittman.

“I’m a strong advocate for a provincial land trust where agricultural lands can be protected from the public market and put into a public food lands commons. With the idea of a food lands trust, we’re not suggesting taking land away from people but making land accessible for the benefit of community,” she said.

That could mean land held in a co-op type of structure or a land trust that the community can manage, she added.

That then enables young farmers to buy long-term leases on the land, allowing them to plan and invest with long-term goals in mind, she said.

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