Welcome to my agri-hood

Suzan Erem | Executive Director, Sustainable Iowa Land Trust

The Idea: Across the country, agri-communities or “agri-hoods” are booming because they are a win-win for entire metro regions. Developers are selling bigger houses on smaller lots faster and at a 35-45 percent premium when those houses surround a natural food farm. We can offer a triple win in Iowa when developers donate the farmland itself to Iowa’s only agricultural land trust the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT) and enjoy the state and federal tax benefits available. SILT serves as the expert farm manager building relationships between farmers and neighbors and finding new farmers for the land when necessary. If you can fit a city park, a golf course or a small airport into your planning, you can fit one of these farms. We can feed 200 Iowans per acre, according to ISU’s David Swenson, meaning smaller farms using smaller equipment that fits well into growing cities and towns with labor-intensive, direct-to-consumer farming that creates jobs and builds community. The SILT model gives young people access to affordable farmland for the food they want to grow and sell at farmers markets, local restaurants and even wholesale to schools, hospitals and nursing homes. Organic alone grew six times faster than food sales overall in the U.S. in 2017, so we know there’s a market, but small farmers can’t gain long-term access to land, access that would encourage them to invest in soil and water quality and in their neighbors. This model does all of that and more with farms that increase the supply of local fresh, ripe fruits and vegetables, encourages on-farm educational opportunities, allows more than two crops in Iowa’s ag economy, and provides a proven model for developers. >