blueberries and cherries

Climate Change & Conservation News

Agriculture

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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Birdeyeview
Encore

Whitcomb Farm Solar

Farmers can be part of the climate solution — and many already are. If you or your land trust works with farmers, you might consider how to amplify the positive change agriculture can be.

In conjunction with an easement from the Vermont Land Trust, the solar array will provide lease revenue to the farmers that will assist in keeping the farm in active agricultural use for generations to come.

Meg Armstrong, the owner of Witcomb Farm notes “We were thrilled with the outcome of our work with Encore on the siting of a solar array on our active dairy farm in Essex Junction, Vermont. Encore’s work resulted in an annual lease payment that provides us with the opportunity to improve our farmstead while preserving topsoil integrity. Farming has always involved land, sunlight, and water to produce value; we are pleased to be able to diversify our farming operations to include renewable electricity generation in addition to forage crops and dairy…”

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Aft

Farmers combat climate change

Farmers can be part of the climate solution — and many already are. If you or your land trust works with farmers, you might consider how to amplify the positive change agriculture can be.

American Farmland Trust is committed to making U.S. agriculture climate neutral. To do so, we are elevating the role of farmers and farmland in adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change. From policy leadership, coalition building, and training, to research and on-the-ground demonstration projects, we are working to scale up the adoption of regenerative and soil health-promoting agricultural systems…

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Cows
iStock

Farming to mitigate the effects of climate change

Land trusts are working to help their communities understand how farming can be part of the solution.

At Bailey and Sarah Williamson Preserve, farmers will be using regenerative methods to help mitigate and reverse the effects of climate change. Industrial-conventional agriculture models have focused on single-crop operations that have exceeded the natural carrying capacity of the land, ruining soil, water, habitat, and air quality. Regenerative methods seek to reverse some of this damage by rebuilding degraded soils, increasing biodiversity, and creating healthy, fair, and just food systems…

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