Some key principles and first steps

Key principles to consider for local authorities

Before you start, establish your ways of working:

  • Allow adequate time for bringing all the relevant parts of the local authority together - be willing to be a champion

  • Be willing to share power: with the local community, other local landowners, farmers, civil society organisations

  • If you can advocate for money to support this process, then do - the more flexibility and resource you have, the easier this will be

As you begin, streamline objectives:

  • Observe and gather information from a variety of sources - try to find shared goals and areas of consensus in the diagnosis of needs and priorities

  • Define objectives that are easy to explain - a clear and consistent message will facilitate your work in the long term

Over time, cultivate resilience:

  • Give yourself time and the right to experiment - trials and errors are numerous in tackling land issues

  • Work with conviction and strong political will: it is best to anticipate difficulties and opposition and plan ahead how you will respond to these

Some low-barrier entry actions

Put land on the agenda (of your internal meetings, of exchanges with constituents, of the next discussion with other local authorities…)

Make a quick research about organisations that work on land in your country/region, contact them to know if they have tools to support local authorities.

Support collectives and organisations working on land, even if only by providing them a municipal room to meet or by putting them in touch with relevant actors.

If you have relevant data on the land or agricultural market, or knowledge of a land opportunity, share it (with potential new farmers).

Seize opportunities! E.g. if a farmer is nearing retirement connect them with a candidate successor; if a lease is ending on a public farm try to encourage a sustainable project with the new lease; if a cheap or strategic plot is up for sale, acquire it or tell an ethical land trust or new farmer about it.

Some first steps to achieve specific goals

a- learn about who takes part in the zoning negotiations and their interests

b- think about who in the local authority needs to be involved in these discussions. Paul’s most important role could be as a internal broker between all of the different interests within the local authority

c- gather prior information on local land (existing studies on the local agriculture, existing objectives regarding curtailing land loss or tackling climate change)

d- gather priori information on legal possibilities to protect land through zoning, and examples of towns who have done it

a- evaluate whether the municipal land is fit for vegetable growing (type of soil and fertility, existence of infrastructure like greenhouses/irrigation/storage buildings)

b- evaluate the costs, infrastructure and practices needed to enable the school canteen to start preparing meals from scratch using fresh vegetables

c- reach out to community and civic society organisations who may be interested in managing the land or being involved with growing

d- reach out to local farmers and skilled growers for advice on business models

a- survey the farmers on their current use of the lands held in common

b- make data publicly accessible on common land available

c- engage the local administration - specifically the local council - to establish specific local measures which support new entrants, the safeguarding of common land and animal husbandry as agricultural activity of the community

d- mediate the relationship between new entrants and the local community who are the stewards of the commons

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