How We Preserve Farmland
We work with landowners and farmers in two ways:
- We partner with landowners who wish to conserve their farmland through voluntary Conservation Agreements.
- We acquire ownership of farmland, hold it in trust and make it available for farming through Leasing.
A conservation agreement is a legal means by which a landowner can choose to set permanent limitations on the future use of his or her land. This is one of the most popular methods used for conservation of agricultural land. The land remains in private ownership, but the type of activity that can be carried out on the land is restricted.
For example, a farm owner may enter into a conservation agreement that prevents severance of the land for housing development and requires that the land be restricted to agricultural uses in perpetuity.
In July 2013, the Government of Nova Scotia issued new Community Easements Regulations outlining the requirements for an organization to be designated as an Eligible Body under the Community Easements Act.
The Annapolis Valley Farmland Trust Society is one of the designated organizations.
Property can be transferred from one or more landowners to a land trust. The Society usually obtains full interest of title, but its ownership may also be limited to a portion of a property. Transfer of ownership can take place over a period of time or, for example, upon the death of the owner.
Leases can range from little more than a right to occupy land to the near equivalent of fee simple ownership. The benefits and costs vary accordingly. Lands owned or leased by the trust can be leased to neighbouring farmers while generating funds for the Society.
These are the most common mechanisms that we use for preserving agricultural land. They can be used alone or in combination. Others can be negotiated.
What is a Land Trust?
In general terms, a land trust is any organization that holds or protects land “in trust” for public benefit. Individual land trusts are usually developed to protect a specific type of land that serves an important function which may be threatened by competing land uses.
Land trusts have typically been used to protect woodlands, wetlands, rare species habitat, or other ecologically sensitive areas. However, hundreds of successful farmland trusts have been formed in North America to conserve working farmlands.