Potential for Leasing Institutional Lands in Windham County, Connecticut
Toward A New England Food Vision
Keywords:Scenarios, Alternative Landscape Futures, New England, Agriculture, Geography, New England Food Vision, Land Use
The social and environmental impacts of the modern industrial food system are ample reason to explore alternative scenarios. A New England Food Vision calls for building a resilient food system at the regional scale, with the goal of providing 50% of New England’s food from within the region by the year 2060. Land access is a substantial challenge for aspiring farmers, particularly those from socially marginalized groups. Leasing farmland is less expensive than purchasing it outright, although not without its challenges. Institutionally owned land—properties owned by government entities, nonprofit organizations, educational organizations, religious organizations, or healthcare organizations—may be especially suitable for leasing to aspiring farmers due to their secure tenure and reduced development pressure. This site suitability analysis identifies institutionally owned lands in Windham County, Connecticut, excludes areas containing ecological or practical constraints, and assesses the new farmland acreage and food production that might be generated if these lands were converted to agricultural cultivation. Leasing the resulting lands to farmers would increase the agricultural acreage within the county by almost 19%. The majority of the land identified was owned either by state or municipal government entities, so farmer advocate organizations seeking to promote leasing arrangements should tailor their resources to this type of land ownership and audience.
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