>now for the retiring farmer is often selling to a developer to put houses
>on prime farmland. Farmers must be allowed to profit from their land,
>yet is there a more sustainable, and practical, way than turning farmland
>into new houses?
> Certainly farmers ought to profit from the sale of their farmland, just
>as others do from other types of land. Yet, the main present option of
>turning farmland into new houses doesn't seem sustainable. [snip]
> Can others of you see any other options?
Here's something to think about.
Perhaps the suburbanization of our prime farmland will ultimately be
seen as a piece of good luck. Many of us advocate both small farms and
local food supplies, while we decry the concentration of land ownership
in the corporate/industrial model of agriculture. A one-acre lot on
prime farmland is capable of producing a substantial quantity of high
quality food, and it is highly unlikely such land will ever again be
When conditions are ripe for it, these suburban lots could quickly be
developed into mini-farms, either as home-based businesses or as a
source of much good food for the family living there. That sort of
flexibility, coupled with broad-based ownership of prime agricultural
land in the form of suburban lots, may turn out to be a very lucky and
important break at a moment when we need one badly.
The history of land tenure issues (albeit oversimplified) can be
summarised roughly as follows. There are three interacting components
--- free (open) access to land, free peasantry, and non-working
landowners --- and in a given land regime you will have any *two* of
those components, but not the third. Much American farmland is now in
the hands of non-working owners (rented by neighbors), and there is a
fluidity as to whether land access will diminish (outmigration of
youth) or whether the average rural person will tend to become somewhat
enserfed (as in corporate poultry).
By allowing for large numbers of working landowners, suburbanised
farmland could facilitate much more open access to land and a more
entrepreneurial (ie freer) "peasantry." That would be an important
safety valve in times of social and/or economic upheaval such as
another serious Depression.
To Unsubscribe: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
To Subscribe to Digest: Email email@example.com with the command
All messages to sanet-mg are archived at: