Organization: Renewing the Countryside

Farmland access is identified as the biggest challenge for emerging farmers—particularly Black and Brown farmers—in developing viable businesses and growing capacity for community resilience. While finding affordable land to lease or purchase is part of the challenge, an additional challenge is understanding the policies, codes and ordinances that regulate what can be done at county, city and township levels. Through our work and that of our partners working on farmland access, we regularly see emerging farmers either get stuck because of regulations that impact their farm or see them making decisions that could have expensive repercussions because they do not know of or do not understand the local regulations. Examples include required setbacks from property lines, disposal of gray water from washing vegetables, and building permits for farm structures. By identifying these policies and regulations that impact emerging farmers, researching solutions and guidelines, and making this information available to farmers and to local governments, we can help emerging farmers successfully navigate these regulations, and identify patterns that will inform us of what needs to be done—and who needs to be engaged—to advance greater farmland access to emerging farmers.