“I wanted to buy some land for farming, but it was too expensive for us, so I was really excited to find LandLink” says Mona Angel of Laughing Turtle Farms. Like many people, Mona has wanted to get back to the idea of locally produced food. Her partner, Anne, feels that “it is not enough to just opt out of the industrial food system,” but that it is her responsibility to support the local food system by being a farmer. Having more farmers means more fresh food.
But what if you want to farm, and you have no land? LandLink provides a forum where landowners, who are unable to work the land themselves, and potential farmers can “link up” to form a mutually beneficial relationship. LandLink provides the screening tools in order to make this process easier on the landowners. Land owners can simply reach out to LandLink with the type of land they have and the type of farmer they are looking for. LandLink then posts inquiries from potential candidates and puts the two parties together. In addition to this service, LandLink also posts training, internship, and mentorship opportunities to aspiring farmers and ranchers. The Central New Mexico LandLink is a service provided and run by the MRCOG Agriculture Collaborative in Albuquerque with the goal of “getting the next generation of farmers and ranchers onto the land with the support they need to succeed.”
For Mona and Anne, LandLink made farming possible. Both grew up around farms but never had the option of owning land themselves. “After I earned my permaculture certificate from UNM, I wanted to put it to use,” said Mona. Following an encounter with Lora Roberts, a former employee at the Ag Collaborative who introduced them to LandLink, Anne said they “loved the idea of farming without needing to buy the land.” Mona and Anne found two properties from LandLink listings and were put in contact with the landowners. They currently work the King Orchard in the North Valley and have started a permaculture-based farm along the Rio Grande.
“Both owners live on site, so they are around,” says Mona. However, that is where the similarities in owners ends. At the farm the owner is “not very involved.” He shows off the plot during the growing season and picks some fresh food for his family, but that is about it. He provides the land simply because he wants it to be used and he desires access to “real food.” Mona and Anne sell their bounty under the name Laughing Turtle Farms at local growers markets around Albuquerque. They may even be at the Lobo Growers Market in April at UNM. In contrast, the orchard owner is pretty involved. It is more of a partnership in which both the owner and Mona and Anne work the land and make decisions together. Mona and Anne sell the apples from the orchard at markets and to La Montanita Coop, and they split the profits with the owner.
Mona and Anne are just one of the several success stories from LandLink. A quick look at LandLink’s website will show more success stories and many ways to get involved. If you are thinking, “I don’t live in New Mexico, what about me?” Don’t fear, LandLink has partner sites in several states including Montana, Michigan, California, and Washington, just to name a few.
If you are looking to inject yourself into the local food system, or to make your land productive, seek out your local LandLink website and get involved. Like Mona says, “It is the best feeling to see people enjoying a fresh veggie that I grew!” Why not be a part of that special feeling, LandLink!!
-Posted by Blair