Bear Yuba Land Trust asks for public’s help in raising money for land purchase
Bear Yuba Land Trust has announced the first project within its Forever Farms campaign, a collaboration with Sierra Harvest and BriarPatch Co-op to preserve local farmland.
The land trust announced in a press release that, last Friday, it signed a purchase and sale agreement to 37 acres of farmland which are currently leased by Mountain Bounty Farm, “one of the most productive organic farms in our region.”
The land trust said the agreement came at a crucial time, since the farm’s lease would expire in December, and the landowner did not plan on renewing it.
Through the Forever Farms campaign, this lease would become a long-term agreement with the land trust, giving Mountain Bounty Farm security in its ability to continue farming.
Of the $650,000 sum needed to fund this acquisition, the three collaborating organizations have raised $400,000.
As they go public with this project now, they are asking for donations to help close the deal.
They hope to raise the remaining $250,000 by July 1.
Erin Tarr, co-executive director of the land trust, expressed her excitement that this project can finally be shared with the public, after about four months of working toward a purchase and sale agreement for the farmland.
Tarr said the Forever Farms campaign is exemplary of the land trust’s mission, as it has already protected around 7,000 acres of agricultural land in Nevada and Yuba counties.
“For our mission, it’s huge, because it’s all about community resilience and the health of the people and planet,” said Tarr. “And having local food security is a huge part of that.”
Tarr emphasized the uniqueness of the land Mountain Bounty currently occupies, saying the degree of investment into the soil and farming infrastructure there would be difficult to replicate, making it that much more important to protect.
Although no dates have been set as of now, the land trust intends to open up the land for farm tours in the summer, so the public can see what it hopes to protect.
Malaika Bishop, co-director of Sierra Harvest, gave some insight regarding the farm organization’s involvement in the Forever Farms project.
“We have been working for several years to find farmland and match farmers with good agricultural lands, and we were having a hard time finding it,” she said.
According to Bishop, for years farmers were leaving Nevada County out of difficulty finding good farmland — and good farmland was going up for sale, but to non-farmers.
This sparked a drive in her and her organization to become more proactive in ensuring stability for farms in Nevada County — at first looking into the easement of local farmlands and seeking to match them with interested farmers.
Forever Farms was the product of that idea, as they quickly realized that the most effective way to achieve their goal would be to instead find farms which were already successful, but at risk of expiring leases, and try to support them first.
Rebecca Torpie, the marketing manager for BriarPatch Co-op, described the campaign as “a win-win for everyone, for the whole community.”
More information about the campaign can be found at http://www.bylt.org/foreverfarms.
Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union.
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