Across the United States – where one acre of farmland is lost to development every minute – young farmers are having an increasingly hard time finding affordable land. Agrarian Trust works to come up with various unique ‘commons-based’ approaches to land ownership in the attempt to strengthen local and regional food and farm economies. In doing so, they’re able to permanently protect farmland for sustainable agriculture and preserve its affordability for new and disadvantaged farmers in communities across the country. To learn more, visit the Agrarian Trust’s website.
This community development bank in Fortaleza, Brazil is governed and managed by local residents, for local needs. Their founding mission was to help revitalize the local economy, create badly needed jobs, and increase the collective self-reliance of the financially disadvantaged Palmeira district where the bank is located.
To learn more, visit Banco Palmas’ website (in Portuguese), or Wikipedia entry or P2P Wiki.
The Brixton Pound, or “B£,” is a local currency in Brixton, London (UK), designed to circulate alongside the ordinary British pound. The Brixton Pound supports local, independent businesses by circulating only in the Brixton area, thereby reducing carbon emissions from long-distance transportation of goods, maintaining the diversity of Brixton’s shops, and building a resilient economy that protects local livelihoods. To learn more, visit The Brixton Pound’s website.
BALE engages in a number of grassroots community localization initiatives from their home base in the White River watershed of Vermont. The overarching goal of these efforts is “to build appropriately scaled solutions from the ground up, taking back, as much as possible, our economy, our culture, and our democratic instruments by re-injecting humanity and authentic relationships into all that we do.” Projects include The Commons @ BALE (a community space open to all and used most evenings of the year), a community solar initiative, a local investment club, a documentary film series, and a Locally Grown Guide to local businesses. Learn about these projects and more at https://balevt.org.
Established in 1999, California FarmLink supports a diverse range of beginning limited-resource and immigrant sustainable farmers. They work across the state of California, with a particular focus on central agriculture regions, to help these farmers find land, develop sound lease agreements, partner with landowners to purchase farms or transition farms to the next generation, participate in training on financial and business management, and access capital through FarmLink’s loan program and other lenders. To learn more at California FarmLink’s website.
Photo by Steve Corey (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Cargonamia takes a fun approach to shrinking food miles with three separate projects: an organic vegetable farm (Zsamboki Biokert), a do-it-yourself bicycle cooperative (Cyclonomia), and a self-managed bike delivery company (Kantaa). The three come ￼together to create an urban food distribution hub that uses locally-manufactured cargo bikes to deliver locally-grown food across Budapest. To learn more, visit Cargonomia’s website.
The Carrot Project works with family farms that use sustainable growing methods, as well as food businesses that sell their products locally and regionally — the kinds of endeavors that often have trouble finding startup capital and securing loans from conventional banks. They help these farmers and businesses to understand their financial picture, and, when appropriate, work with agricultural land trusts and others to apply for and manage financial capital. To learn more, visit The Carrot Project’s website.
Photo by Nick Harris (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Credibles (or “edible credits”) function like community supported agriculture shares, except that they can be bought at all kinds of local food establishments — coffee shops, restaurants, butcher shops, grocery stores. As with CSA shares, when customers buy Credibles they are paying upfront — or investing — in local businesses for future edible returns. The businesses can then use the money for capital and operating expenses, and Credibles customers can pop in at any time to pick up a cup of coffee, a loaf of bread or some fresh veggies — strengthening ties between business owners and their communities. To learn more, visit Credible’s website.
This “ethical development bank” in Zagreb, Croatia, is cooperatively owned and democratically governed by its own members. Ebanka provides all the services of a normal bank while working to keep capital in local communities and ensuring that the needs of people and the environment always take precedence over profit.
To learn more, read this interview by Adam Simpson and Sarah McKinley published by the Next System Project or visit Ebanka’s website.
Equity Trust is a non-profit organization committed to changing the spirit and character of our material relationships. They help communities to gain ownership interests in land and other local resources, and work with people to make economic changes that balance the needs of individuals with the needs of the community, the earth, and future generations. They have a particular focus on permanently preserving land for agricultural use.
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Fair Tax Town is the project of small business owners from a little town called Crickhowell in Wales. Fed up with the fact that a giant multinational corporation like Amazon pays less in taxes than a small local bookshop, the business owners of Crickhowell banded together to create a “corporation” that could take advantage of the same tax loopholes big multinationals regularly use. Their goal in doing so is to shed light on injustice, shame the corporate tax avoiders, and take back some power for the little guys.
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Geng Motor Imut
Founded by six university students who love to share their knowledge of sustainable farming as much as they love traversing the countryside on motorcycles, Geng Motor Imut (GMI) – the unlikely hybrid between a motorcycle gang and a sustainable farming resource – is helping to spread inexpensive appropriate technologies and sustainable farming knowledge throughout Indonesia. GMI uses all proceeds from sales of their cheap, human-scale technology to fund activities including advocacy, community events, and a sustainable agriculture program in the local juvenile detention center. The Small is Beautiful Project has released a short, five-minute film about Geng Motor Imut as part of a series of ‘little films about big change-makers’. Or you can follow Geng Motor Imut here.
Localise West Midlands is a non-profit think tank, campaign group, and consultancy working towards “local supply chains, money flow, ownership and decision-making for a more just and sustainable economy.” From their headquarters in Birmingham, they work in many ways to catalyze systemic change in the West Midlands Region — from creating a local currency, to promoting the decentralization of democratic power, to supporting local businesses and farms. To learn more, visit http://www.localisewestmidlands.org.uk.
Photo by Robert Linsdell (CC BY 2.0)
The Seikatsu Club
In 1965, a group of 200 Tokyo women – tired of getting low-quality milk at unaffordable prices from the large milk companies that dominated the dairy market – banded together to create a collective purchasing club. From this humble beginning, the Seikatsu Club has grown into a federation of 32 cooperatives with nearly 350,000 members (over 90% of them women). Despite its size, the Seikatsu Club has maintained a decentralized structure to facilitate human-scale, face-to-face interaction between members and producers. To learn more, visit the Seikatsu website, or read AsiaDHRRA’s profile of their work.
Totally Locally helps towns around the world support their local businesses and create thriving local economies by offering a simple toolkit, full of fun promotional materials, all designed to spread the message: shopping local really does make a difference.
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