Land Trust & Conservation Easement

"In some parts of the country, a farm is worth more for its real estate than for what it grows. And as profits become increasingly elusive, some farmers look to sell off their land [...] In many parts of the country, valuable, food-producing land, which has been carefully tended for generations, has been lost forever [...] A land trust helps preserve this [land] by creating a conservation easement. The trust purchases the development rights to a piece of farmland to ensure it stays in its current use." - Douglas Gayeton 

In this edition of the Food List, we travel from one corner of the country to another to appreciate the impact of land trusts and their role in building a resilient food system. Beginning in Alaska, Shannon from Great Land Trust sees land trusts as reassurance for future generations and as our country’s best kept secret.

In Land Trust we learn more about how this tool keeps land productive and provides the community with cultural continuity. And Grist contributes with an article about how local food is becoming a strong growing trend for Land Trusts.

Understanding the foundation of a land trust is only the beginning. National Young Farmers Coalition explains land trusts as a powerful tool and has created a guide to connect farmers to these resources.

The value of land trusts in preserving precious agricultural land has been realized in Marin County of California, as explained by Bob Berner of MALT.

On the east coast, in an urban setting, community land trusts introduce a different model involving collective decision making.

From a national perspective, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition takes a closer look at the federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and how it’s serving the future of resilient farming and sustainable food systems.

At the base of the intentions of land trusts and conservation easements is a desire to save the places we love, as related by Walter Clark. Learn how you can contribute to saving your local natural wealth.

This week's terms

Land Trust

A private nonprofit organization that actively works to conserve land by undertaking or assisting in land or conservation acquisition, and stewardship of such land or easements.

Conservation Easement

A conservation easement is a legal tool used by landowners to transfer land usage rights (and protection) to Land Trusts. It creates cultural continuity in an otherwise unpredictable world. Farmers can choose to enroll their land in a conservation easement under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which offers compensation to farmers for enhancing land stewardship on their farms.

Land Stewardship

Doing the best by the land you own or manage. We generally think caring for the land means keeping it the way it is, but as much of our land has degraded true stewardship entails restoring ecosystem function. Because we’ve lived with and on deteriorated landscapes for so long we’ve collectively lost memory of how vibrant our lands can be. The soundest land stewardship restores ecological processes so that soil health, the water cycle and biodiversity are enhanced.


A mostly informal collection of young, brainy, energetic world changers. In an effort to enhance the visibility of the Young Farmers Movement, Greenhorns use self-made tools, including films, books, radio programs, and public events, to engage and inspire their local community.

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