With the average age of a farmer now at about 58 years old, many farmers are retiring, in many cases with no one in the family to take up the family business. Within the next 20 years, it is estimated that 46,000 acres of farmland will be lost. The good news is that there is a growing interest in local food, coupled by a new movement of young people who want to be farmers. The need to preserve the county’s prime farmland soils is critical to everyone’s future.
There are three ways that TLC works to preserve farms and farming in McHenry County: Agricultural Conservation Easements, Learning Circles for Women Farmowners, and a Farmer-Landowner Match program. Keep reading to learn more!
One of the tools that The Land Conservancy (TLC) uses to protect farms is a voluntary conservation agreement known as an easement. This type of an easement permanently limits non-agricultural development while allowing the owner to continue living on or leasing their land, expanding their farm business, and transferring the farm to a new generation. These easements can be donated, purchased, or a combination of the two. In each scenario the financial benefits to the landowner can be substantial.
For more details on how a conservation easement works, click here. If you are interested in preserving your farm with an agricultural easement, contact Linda Balek at [email protected] or call 815/337-9502.
Women own nearly half of the farmland in McHenry County. In many cases, they inherited it from their fathers, husbands or brothers. Additionally, many women farmowners were not involved in the business side of farming until they inherited the land. The idea behind the Learning Circles is to provide a crucial link between women farmland owners and the resources they need to achieve their conservation goals by holding women-only meetings at which they can fee free to raise questions, share challenges and get information on a wide range of resources available to them. TLC plans to hold a workshop each year to provide women farm owners access to specialists and information that will help them be good stewards of their land.
Find land to farm or find a farmer to farm your land. Click here for additional information.
The Land Conservancy is a proud partner and supporter of Food Shed Co-op, an organization working to open a community-owned grocery store in McHenry County. As a non-profit entity, TLC can accept donations to support education efforts of Food Shed.
Click the PayPal button below to make a donation!