- Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
- Sustainable Communities: community services, employment opportunities, quality of life, social capital, social networks, social psychological indicators, sustainability measures
In a turn from the historical decline in farm entry by young and beginning farmers, the burgeoning opportunities in sustainable, local and regional agriculture are prompting many people to consider a farming career for the first time. As beginning farmers face significant barriers to accessing land and capital, land link programs have emerged as an organizational response to this challenge. Over the past 20 years, at least 41 land link programs have been established nationally, with over one-third located in the Northeast SARE region. Little research has analyzed the program histories and activities, the outcomes they achieve, or who the primary beneficiaries of these programs are. This applied research project will collect data on the 16 land link programs in the Northeast region through interviews with key program staff and surveys of participating farmland seekers and owners. Data on the opportunities and constraints facing these programs and their participants will contribute to the development of a promising practices model and benchmarks for land link program outcomes. This research will evaluate the potential for land link programs to support the sustainable transfer of land to the next generation of farmers through tenure arrangements which suit their situation, are affordable over the long term, and yield secure terms which foster stewardship of the land. Results will be distributed to the participating programs, and published on extension and land link program websites as a resource for beginning farmers and organizations across the country who manage or are considering establishing land link programs.
Project objectives from proposal:
1. Gather relevant background information and organizational evolution of all land link programs in the Northeast region to understand and characterize land link activities and identify factors associated with organizational success or failure.
2. Characterize and compare farmland seekers and owners within and across Northeast land link programs to assess and measure patterns of program participation, satisfaction, concerns, tenure outcomes and generational goals.
3. Develop evidence-based recommendations for promising practices and benchmarks for new or expanding land link programs so that programs can evaluate their own progress and demonstrate the contribution of their programs to communities, participants and funders.