Access to land is one of the biggest challenges for farmers worldwide. In the US alone, 175 acres of farmland is lost to development every hour. Equity Trust, based in New England, works with farmers and land trusts to stem this tide and develop creative solutions for preserving farms. Their approach, based on the affordable housing movement, involves transferring land ownership to a nonprofit entity and leasing land to farmers at below-market rates. The farmers continue to own their homes, buildings, and other infrastructure on the land, with a buffer against the volatility of land prices in the real estate market. Read more about Equity Trust’s work on their website, in this article by The New Food Economy, and in this Medium article.
The Evergreen Cooperative Initiative, in Cleveland, Ohio, is an inspiring example of community-based economic revitalization in action. Their overarching purpose is to reduce poverty and inequality by building community wealth, democratizing ownership, and creating local green jobs for residents of one of the city’s high-unemployment, low- income neighborhoods. To learn more, visit theEvergreen Cooperatives’ website.
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. Read Fair Tax Town’s full story on Medium.
The global fashion industry is responsible for a disproportionately high amount of the world’s carbon emissions. Localizing our garments may wind up being as important a task as localizing our food or water supplies. Hence, Fibershed – a network of over 100 farmers, ranchers, weavers, spinners, and designers across 19 counties in Northern California, creating an integrated garment-producing system where all materials are sourced from within a 150-mile radius. Fibershed makes localization fun with annual “wool symposia”, a fashion gala, and hands-on educational curricula for children to learn about bioregions and restoration ecology – including the use of regenerative farming practices to sequester carbon in the soil. It’s the first initiative of its kind, but Fibershed is actively involved in helping other groups of farmers and artisans create their own regional fiber systems. Learn more from Fibershed’s website and this profile by YES! Magazine.Photo by Paige Green
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’.Photo by Luke Robinson
Founded in 1984, the Ixpiyakok Women’s Association (ADEMI) is a local food organization run by and for women and families in Guatemala’s Chimaltenango region. ADEMI originally comprised a small group of Mayan widows who wished to combat malnutrition in their community. Now, ADEMI has grown to promote the value and health benefits of ancient seed varieties, native heirloom fruits and vegetables and family gardening in over thirty communities in the region. To learn more about ADEMI, read this case study by the Equator Initiative.
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 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.
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)
The Catalan Integral Cooperative is a financial co-op, a food pantry, a legal-aid desk, an open-source tool workshop, a local currency (the “eco”) and a bed-and-breakfast for tourists in a medieval watchtower, all rolled into one. Its goal is to facilitate the creation of an entire ecosystem of alternative “post-capitalist” economic projects in Catalonia, to replace the dominant system. Read a full report on their activities via Shareable or visit the Catalan Integral Cooperative website.