Land Trusts and Beginning Farmers' Access to Land: Exploring the Relationships in Coastal California


  • Jessica Beckett University of California, Davis
  • Ryan E. Galt University of California, Davis



Beginner Farmers, Conservation, Land Access, Land Trusts, Local Food


This paper examines relationships between beginner farmers and land trusts in coastal California. Set within the context of land consolidation in agriculture and increasing land values, some beginner farmers have created innovative land tenure relationships with land trusts in order to gain access to affordable farmland. To examine the relationships between land trusts and beginning farmers, we ask: how do conservation land trusts and agricultural land trusts view their mission in relation the intersection of conservation and agriculture? Findings suggest there is a spectrum of positions that conservation and agricultural land trusts have taken in regards to the coexistence of agriculture and conservation on their land. The increasingly popular concepts found within the local food movement may be influencing a shift in the portrayal of land trust position and mission. However, differences between how land trusts act internally and how they portray themselves publicly emerged in farmer interviews. While there may be great deal of potential for land trusts to work with beginner farmers and thereby connect a new swath of the public to conservation through agriculture, both land trusts and beginner farmers need to wade carefully into relatively uncharted waters.


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Author Biographies

Jessica Beckett, University of California, Davis

M.Sc. Community Development, University of California, Davis; P.O. Box 1114, Santa Cruz, California 95061 USA; +1-831-207-6255.

Ryan E. Galt, University of California, Davis

Associate Professor, Department of Human Ecology & Agricultural Sustainability Institute, University of California, Davis; 1309 Hart Hall, One Shields Avenue; Davis, California 95616 USA.



How to Cite

Beckett, J., & Galt, R. E. (2014). Land Trusts and Beginning Farmers’ Access to Land: Exploring the Relationships in Coastal California. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 4(2), 19–35.