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Climate Change & Conservation News

Agriculture

Eggplant Squash Carrots
Judy Anderson

Land conservation combatting climate change

Farms and farmland can be an important part of the climate solution, but we have to understand the barriers and what's realistic. This land trust is working to find creative solutions, including supporting renewables that are compatible with farming, and tapping into federal and state funding for soil health and farming practices.

Agricultural Stewardship Association is working to position farmers and farmland as part of the climate solution. Here’s an excerpt from their website:

ASA is dedicated to helping mitigate climate change. Here’s how:

  1. We are helping farm families permanently protect the most valuable and resilient land for farming and growing food.
  2. We are educating our community about the importance of keeping land in farming and the connection with increasing resilience to a changing climate.
  3. We are partnering with other organizations to help farmers adopt soil health practices and generate renewable energy in ways that are compatible with agriculture and keep productive land in farming…
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Coastal Rivers
Nate Poole

Coastal Rivers takes leap towards carbon neutrality with solar array

I think you will appreciate the leadership of land trusts like Coastal Rivers, who are making it clear that an integrated approach to slowing down climate change, matters.

For those who braved mud or ice to stroll the slopes at Round Top Farm this winter, they may have spotted something shiny and new in the southwest field behind Darrows Barn.

As of Jan. 3, contractors with ReVision Energy completely installed eight rows of solar panels on a one-acre parcel at the farm and are in the process of finishing the wiring on the array. ReVision broke ground on the project in the fall.

Hannah McGhee, Coastal Rivers outreach and communications manager, said the location for the panels was selected for the minimal impact it would have on the visual landscape at Round Top for the public and abutters.

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Piglets
iStock

Farming collaborative plan looks to keep land accessible, open

Vermont Land Trust has long been an organization supporting farm viability as part of its farmland protection strategy. This is an interesting project that reflects climate change, economic viability, and conservation.

Under the land collaborative model, the property will not solely be devoted to agriculture; Sanford-Long’s animals will share land with a planned solar array…

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Solar Farm
Robin Lubbock/WBUR

Farms will harvest food and the sun, as Mass. pioneers ‘dual-use’ solar

Is your land trust thinking creatively about climate solutions and partnerships? Perhaps your land trust realizes that renewables need to work with land and water.

Paul Knowlton owns 300 acres of land in Grafton, and farms about 50. The farm has been in his family for five generation, ever since Knowlton’s great-great-grandfather settled in the Blackstone Valley in 1872.

These days Knowlton grows pumpkins, squash and corn. Up a gravel road, past the family cemetery, corn stalks are still standing from this year’s crop. “Considering the drought situation, we did fair,” Knowlton says.

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Solar Sheep
American Solar Grazing Association

Solar meets sheep (and bees, and more)

Is your land trust thinking creatively about climate solutions and partnerships? Perhaps your land trust realizes that renewables need to work with land and water. Scenic Hudson continues to demonstrate how they are an organization that is learning and helping to lead.

Often solar panels sit on former agricultural land, but aren’t what we’d otherwise think of as a farm.

Agrivoltaics aims to change that by hosting PV panels and agriculture on the exact same land. Often, livestock like sheep graze under the solar panels. Sometimes the projects include pollinator habitat as well, which can benefit biodiversity, honey production, or adjacent pollinator-dependent crops. And trials are being done growing shaded crops under raised panels, too…

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Orchard
iStock

California conservation to address climate change

Is your land trust thinking creatively about climate solutions and partnerships?

[In 2021] the Trust for Public Land and JPMorgan Chase announced a $500,000 collaboration to launch The Trust for Public Land’s new California Climate Conservation program, and protect natural and working lands, mitigating climate impacts for people in the Central Coast and Los Angeles County. The program will incorporate California’s climate action strategy and help achieve greater community resilience through nature-based solutions and by engaging with local communities…

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Screen Shot Webinar

Solar that supports farmers, soils, water

We are losing farms due to a lack of farm viability. Elevated solar, that allows for growing crops, grazing with dairy cows and horses, and protecting orchards and sensitive plants could become the norm (if we make it that way...). Check out this webinar.

While states and communities around the U.S. are ramping up renewable energy commitments and incentivizing solar development, many farms are struggling. There is also growing concern that solar development could displace active agricultural use on productive farmland, with impacts to farm renters, local economies, and regional food systems. Without an integrated approach, achieving clean energy goals may come at the loss of some of our most fertile and economically viable farmland to solar development.

American Farmland Trust seeks a more collaborative and sustainable path forward towards a clean energy transition that supports healthy soils, wholesome food, and vibrant farms…

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Goat Solar
iStock

The Nature Conservancy tool helps identify ideal solar farm sites in Georgia

We can make sure that solar developments are installed and managed to benefit farm and ranch viability, soil health, wildlife habitat, and water management.

They compared that information to maps of critical habitat, protected lands, and prime farmland. And they put their results into a free online tool.

It allows developers, natural resource agencies, and others to identify low-impact locations for new solar farms. And Gutierrez says the tool finds plenty of them…

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Foothills
iStock

Working Lands Resiliency Initiative

Land trusts of all sizes are working to connect with their communities around climate change. The first step is figuring out what matters.

Combined with increasing climate vulnerability, our valley is experiencing dramatic agricultural land loss. This threatens Taos’ agricultural heritage, disrupts a 400+ year-old acequia system, and challenges efforts towards ecological and community resilience.

The Working Lands Resiliency Initiative combines community organizing with research and advocacy to begin venturing solutions and support to protect Taos’ agricultural heritage and landscapes…

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Taos Water
Jim O’Donnell

SoundCloud: Taos, acequias, water, and the Abeyta Settlement with Judy Torres – hosted by Jim O’Donnell

If you are interested in learning about Taos, New Mexico's 400+ year-old acequia system, this might be worth a listen.

In this 45-minute interview, Taos Land Trust’s Jim O’Donnell talks with Judy Torres of the Taos Valley Acequia Association (TVAA) about irrigation in northern New Mexico, the Abeyta Settlement, the history of acequias, water in the valley and where we are headed.

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