Our Good Work Newsletter                                Summer 2013 
From the Deputy Director
Jim Hafner
Jim Habana Hafner
 
This spring brought new beginnings for me and Land For Good (LFG). In May I joined Kathy and the LFG team as Deputy Director. It's a golden opportunity for me to apply my experience in small farm development, land tenure, resource policy and non-profit management. 
 
My first three weeks saw several milestones that marked new beginnings for LFG also and are featured in this newsletter: a New England farmland meeting, a board-staff retreat, and processing the feedback from your surveys (Thank you!)

Somehow its already a sweltering mid-summer. Our Field staff continue to provide the individual guidance and community workshops that are our hallmark. The Task Forces of the Land Access Project churn out more cutting-edge policy work. But it's not business as usual. You'll soon see evidence of our efforts to sharpen our identity, share our impact and communicate both more widely - as you suggested. We're eager to bring you more stories and lessons from the field, along with tools that help get and keep more farmers on the land. To do that we'll launch a new, user-friendly website in September, followed by a reboot of our online Acquiring Your Farm course. And of course, there will be continued collaboration with our network of regional partners.

With farmland issues - as with Land For Good - the challenges are constant and dynamic, but the cause is worthy because the need and promise are great. And your suggestions, actions and support are critical as we make the road ahead. 
 
In the meantime, connect with us on Twitter (@LandForGood), Facebook or with me by email or LinkedIn. And stay cool!

Sincerely, Jim

Jim Habana Hafner, Deputy Director
More about Jim on our staff page 
conveningKeep New England Farmland in Farming

Farmland access issues are not new in New England. Our regional agricultural land base anchors over 33,000 farm businesses. Preserving-and expanding-this land base, as well as assuring its availability for new farmers, are critical to our future food security, environmental quality and economic development.

 

A recent New England Farmland Convening was unique in its breadth and depth of focus on the issue. Land For Good, in partnership with American Farmland Trust (AFT) and in collaboration with the six New England state Departments of Agriculture and state USDA-NRCS offices, co-hosted a day-long workshop for 85 of the region's farm and conservation leaders. The presentations, dialogue and working groups spanned topics from strengthening farmland protection tools, expanding farmland access for new and established farmers, and improving farmland resiliency in the face of climate change. We focused on understanding the region's farmland resources and on initiatives to protect farmland and expand access.  

 

LFG presented its findings and recommendations from our Land Access Project and facilitated a session on engaging landowners and investors around farmland access. The convening helped identify important opportunities and challenges, and generated new and fruitful connections among agency personnel, nonprofits, and funders. We hope that the dialogue and outputs will inspire more collaborative work on these issues across our region. 

 

Read more and access presentation slides, resources and maps on the AFT website.

The LAP (Land Access Project) WrapLAP
What do you call a project with over 40 partners in six states working in five task forces over three years?

We call it the Land Access Project (LAP)LAP is winding down, touting accomplishments that have substantially improved farmland access for beginning and other farmers in New England. Under the direction of LFG, this multi-faceted project addressed the farmland access challenge from a systems perspective, meaning we holistically-tackled the problem from several angles. 

LAP colleagues from organizations and agencies in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont helped farm seekers learn about their options and make sound land acquisition decisions. Equally important, we worked with those who own the land - farmland owners and farm families transitioning out of farming. We trained and connected service providers who have a role in land access and transfer. 
LAP header
We held a dozen workshops for non-farming landowners and produced guides for farmers without successors, next generation farmers, and public and private landowners. We created a regional online farm property clearinghouse, and upgraded a website for retiring farmers. Our reports on policy innovations, farmland investors and agricultural easements translate investigation into practical recommendations to improve land access in our region. In the process we sent over 1,900 emails to hundreds of farm organizations, service providers, civic leaders and agency personnel about our events and products. 

Many audiences will benefit from our efforts, from farmers to landowners to policymakers. 

Over 90% of LAP project partners thought that LAP has resulted in improved communication about land access issues among service providers across New England. Commented one partner:  "Honored to be part of this New England team. Excellent job, Land For Good; your leadership was exactly what we needed to fulfill the goals of this project."

LAP was supported by the US Department of Agriculture's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (USDA/NIFA BFRD #2010-03067). It is one of several dozen projects across the country working on beginning farmer training and support. 
 
Due to the Farm Bill quagmire, the opportunity for LFG to renew this project and build upon its successes and collaborations has been eliminated. The future of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program itself is uncertain. Nonetheless, our work has lasting impact and we'll continue with our New England partners to improve land access for farm seekers.   
Land Access Info Nights are a Hit in New HampshireInfoNight
Land For Good continued its partnership in New Hampshire with NOFA New Hampshire Beginning Farmer Program Coordinator Ray Conner, and Keller Williams Realtor Mike Hvizda by co-hosting the 4th in a continuing series of Land Access Information Nights around the state. The June 25th at Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center in Laconia, brought together a panel of farm service providers to address the greatest barriers to land access, tenure and transfer. 
 
LAInfoNight flyer
The event drew a mixed crowd of mostly land seekers and some non-farming land owners who want to see their land more actively farmed. It was an opportunity for individuals to get the answers to their individual challenges and talk about key concerns unique to their community and region.

The biggest challenges to beginning farmers include access to land, access to capital and credit, business planning and marketing skills, health care, education and training, and access to markets. Each Info Night panel is made up of regional representatives from Farm Service Agency, Farm Credit East, land trusts, attorneys, UNH Cooperative Extension Specialists and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservationists. Sometimes the most overreaching barrier to beginning farmers is the momentum that social capital brings when starting to farm in a new community. These mixers are excellent ways to get to know the farmers and service providers new farmers will be working with in the years ahead.

More Land Access Information nights are in the works for the North Conway area, Seacoast and Upper Valley of New Hampshire. 

For more information on Land Access Information nights around New England or to host one in your area, please contact Melissa Blindow at (603) 801-6839.
Solidifying Our Work
Retreating to move forward!retreat
Major organizational transitions can open new doors. This has been true at Land For Good. Our May board-staff retreat in Portsmouth NH was both a celebration and a hunkering down to move our strategic development forward. A full day of board-staff dialogue brought great rewards for all of us. There's nothing like face time and abundant (!) good food to deepen connections and reaffirm our passion and shared commitments
LFG Bd & Staff 2013
Staff & Board Members, Portsmouth NH 
to the mission and growth of LFG.

We took stock of where we are, how we are perceived in the "marketplace," and how our strengths can best meet the needs of our multiple audiences. Our agenda and discussion was based in part on rich information from a survey of a wide range of LFG constituents. The market research and results focused on people's emotional response to us and our work. Using a "theory of change" framework we arrived at a deeper and more complete understanding of our mission, and the multiple dimensions and impacts of our work.  A mission-driven organization like ours is most effective when our work derives from a solid grasp of the change we all want to see and the most effective ways we can mobilize toward that outcome. 

With these critical ingredients, we explored our "value proposition" and the larger context in which we do our unique work. And of course we focused also on how we respond, evolve and build bridges while sustaining the work of LFG financially. LFG board committees convened, and together reached clear conclusions and next steps to refine our program mix and business model. It was a full day! 
 
Read more about our Board of Directors - including our newest members Deborah Leonard Kosits and Diana Lischer-Goodband.  
Your surveys said ... resonance

  

you're 'passionately positive' about LFG, but more brand clarity and awareness needed.

As part of regrounding our work, earlier this year Land For Good commissioned market research to better understand the experiences and motivation of our stakeholders. An online survey was conducted containing questions about how experiences with LFG made them feel. 

Nearly 150 responses were tabulated, mostly from people who had attended workshops, received services, were collaborators, or supporters in other ways. Over half receive this newsletter. Here's a brief summary of the findings: 

  • Nearly half of respondents hold 'passionately positive' emotions relative to their experience with LFG, while over 40% held mild emotions. The underlying positive factors were based on the organization's value proposition, its specific offerings, awareness of the organization and its role in working on the problems of farmers and farming.
  • Resonance data graph
    Positive Engagement Factors
  • Only 9% of respondents reported 'passionately negative' emotions.
  • Low level of intense passion in responses result primarily from limited marketing and awareness of our primary work, despite the broad impact and reach of our staff's work across all six New England states - and beyond. 
When asked about "3 Things to Change," your responses fell into three key areas.
  1. Programs and outreach. These findings highlighted the need to hone the LFG "brand" by clarifying what is unique about our work, our program mix, and what we do and don't do. We are well along into a sustain effort in our branding.
  2. Awareness and marketing. There is a real desire for LFG to be more known, to know LFG better, and to promote its aims. This is an opportunity to communicate our brand in ways that will increase the reach, engagement and passion among you - our stakeholders. We will be making it easier for us to all stay connected through dialogue, and the exchange of stories, lessons and feedback. Let us know how we can help you share our resources with others who support farmland for farming.
  3. Sustainability and development. Expressions of the value of the organization, its staff and expertise were coupled with a desire to see it sustain itself. Creating depth and scalable programs and services within a viable funding mix is a priority for our Board and staff.

If you responded to the Resonance survey, THANK YOU! You'll be hearing from us specifically with more detailed results and opportunities for input. 

 

The survey conclusions and details have been analyzed and discussed by our Board and staff - and have factored directly into key decisions that have since been made, as well as our ongoing strategic planning and development process. Stay tuned for more good things to come!

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In This Issue
Resources & Tools
Landowners Seeking Farmers 
Land Access Project
Donate Button
Help Gain Ground for Farmers!
New Resources
Policy Innovations
The Land Access Project (LAP) released a new report on Farmland Access and Tenure Innovations: Policy and Program Suggestions to Promote Land Access for New England's Beginning Farmers

Land For Good is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization supported by grants, fees, and your generous donations.  
Donate now to help keep our agricultural lands working! Thank you.
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Land For Good | 603-357-1600 | info@landforgood.org| http://landforgood.org
PO Box 625
39 Central Squar, Suite 306
Keene NH 03431

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