As part of Sierra Harvest’s mission to educate, inspire, and connect Nevada County families to fresh, local, seasonal food, we train farmers who know how to grow this food. However, if these farmers don’t have access to agricultural land in Nevada County, we won’t get very far. Recently, we have been talking with the Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT) to figure out how we might collaborate on preserving agricultural land (that might otherwise be developed) for new farmers.
The average age of farmers in Nevada County is 57 years old, and most have no succession plan for their farms. Through the “Land for Farmers” campaign, the Bear Yuba Land Trust works with ranchers in Nevada County to preserve their land as farm land in perpetuity. The incentive is called an “agricultural conservation easement”. Farm owners stand to make more money selling or leasing their land to developers, but if they agree to put it in an easement, the BYLT will raise money to pay them the difference in price. Or, the land owner might choose not to take the money, and simply enjoy the benefits of lower property taxes and knowing that they have preserved land for generations to come.. It also opens up land for new farmers to farm – in fact the easement requires that the land is farmed.
This is where Sierra Harvest would come in. Sierra Harvest could find young farmers who are looking for land to farm, and connect them with the easement land. Initially, we would partner with farmer training programs like the one at UC Santa Cruz Extension to find farmers; eventually we will have our own local farmer training and journeyman program to draw from. (Sierra Harvest’s Journeyman program is currently on hiatus until we find more land to use to train farmers.)
This program is currently in the research phase, but we are always looking to connect good land with farmers who are looking for it. If you are looking for land, you can let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have land you want farmed, you can e-mail us or upload information about your site to our online Land Bank.