14 Mar COMMUNITY FARMING
Community farming offers many benefits to farmers who want to practice sustainable agriculture and to communities who want fresh, healthy, locally-produced food.
Healthy Local Economies
Community farms are locally owned and operated, and democratically controlled. Local farms keep money circulating in their communities rather than exporting it to absentee owners or shareholders, and the benefits are passed on to local restaurants, farmers markets, retailers, and consumers.
Agriculture and farming practices can both harm and protect environmental systems and processes. Groups that farm cooperatively feel a strong sense of stewardship and responsibility to the land, but farmers do face barriers when they choose to farm sustainably. By basing their agricultural activities on sustainable practices, community farms balance environmental sustainability with retention and protection of valuable and threatened farmland.
Local Food Security
Rural communities import much of their food. In the context of a global food crisis, establishing local suppliers of diverse food products increases food security in small rural communities. Communities that invest in community farms help secure farmland and build local food systems for ongoing food production.
When a community invests in a farm, its long term viability and security as a food production (and social) system are supported. Farmers benefit from market and price stability when communities support their farmers through community shared agriculture programs, farmers markets, and local distribution networks.
Social Capital and Community Amenities
Community farms build ‘social capital’ by involving a diverse group of individuals – farmers, community members, and organizations – with different skills and knowledge. This social capital, or wealth, helps create community amenities beyond food production, including environmental and agricultural education, recreational opportunities, and nature conservation areas.