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Old Farm
Creative Commons

Farms under threat

Farmland is a critical resource in our country, particularly in areas that are heavily forested or developed. American Farmland Trust recently released the Farms Under Threat report, documenting those challenges.

Farms Under Threat is AFT’s multi-year effort to advance cutting-edge solutions for farmland protection. We use high-resolution spatial analysis tools to identify exactly where agricultural land has been converted to urban and low-density residential land uses, and we have done a deep analysis of every state’s policies for protecting farmland and ranchland, promoting agricultural viability, and helping transfer land to the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

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Solar And Ag
Hyperion Systems, LLC

Farmland and Compatible Solar Webinar Series

You and your land trust don't have to host all the programs nor be an expert in climate change to make a difference. Instead, you can share information to help inspire those around you. American Farmland Trust has a number of very interesting webinar discussions for you to share.

Farmland is a critical resource in our country, particularly in areas that are heavily forested or developed. American Farmland Trust recently released the Farms Under Threat report, documenting those challenges.

Yet climate change is the most significant threat to conservation we have ever faced. Rather than remove forests, many are locating solar fields on agricultural lands. Can it be done well? Yes.

Find out how in this webinar series focusing on smart solar siting, balancing solar siting with conservation, growing the solar market, and turning state and local priorities into sound policy. While this is focused on New England, there will be many transferable concepts for wherever you are located.

Webinars are free and running on September 23, September 30, October 7, and October 15. 

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Solar Panels

Want to get involved with solar grazing?

Time is running out to have a meaningful impact on climate change (to save the lands and waters we love), but the solutions are here. You and your land trust can help people understand both the importance of and the need for changing the paradigm. Check out American Solar Grazing Association for webinars, resources, and conversations with farmers on solar, grazing, and farm viability.

he American Solar Grazing Association (ASGA) was founded to promote grazing sheep on solar installations.

ASGA members are developing best practices that support shepherds and solar developers to both effectively manage solar installations and create new agribusiness profits…

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Kale Under Solar
Hyperion Systems, LLC

Smart Solar Siting partnership project for New England

Land trusts will need to help promote renewables if we are going to reduce climate change fast enough to make a meaningful impact. Yet we know that rooftop solar, and parking lot/brown-field solar won't be enough. That means solar has to go on farmland or wildlife habitat...and it's not often compatible with wildlife habitat.

American Farmland Trust’s Smart Solar Siting Partnership Project for New England started as a two-year effort to build an influential, ongoing, multi-stakeholder coalition supporting recommendations that advance smart solar siting policies and programs in New England states. This is a joint effort to accelerate the expansion of renewable solar energy facilities while maintaining New England’s most productive, resilient farmland and forest land and strengthening its regional food systems.

Check out their program and resources. Your land trust and community may be able to model a similar approach.

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Picking Produce
The Conservation Foundation

Green Earth Harvest

The Conservation Foundation’s Green Earth Harvest program is devoted to healthy soil, healthy vegetables, healthy people, and healthy communities.  Our Green Earth Harvest farm crew works tirelessly to sustainably farm the agricultural land at our McDonald Farm headquarters in Naperville and produce healthy organic vegetables for the community…

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Drone Above Road And Evergreens
Geran de Klerk on Unsplash

It’s time for businesses to aim higher. Here’s one way to do it—natural climate solutions

This is the sort of article you can share with community members, businesses, and your local land trust. Granted, with Covid-19, businesses are often facing lower cash-flow. But that's not to say you can't start planting the seeds of what could be possible once we get through the worst of this pandemic.

Corporations are (rightly) first focused on reducing their emissions. That’s absolutely where they need to start, and it should be their highest climate-related priority. Thanks to pressure by activists, customers, shareholders and employees, companies are now taking action. They’re not waiting for government regulations mandating them to do so. They’re doing what they can to reduce their carbon emissions by using less energy and switching to renewables.

And when they can’t reduce further, they are now also committing to purchase large volumes of offsets to reach carbon neutrality. Some companies go even further and aim to reach net negative.

This is where NCS enters the picture…

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Big Solar Panel
Maine Audubon

Climate change and community impact

Is your land trust, or local community, looking for ways to connect and inspire change around climate change? You might be able to replicate what Maine Audubon has been doing.

Climate communication 101 involves meeting people where they are, connecting with that they see, and finding ways for people to participate in the climate solution in a manner that also adds value to their lives.

Maine Audubon has done just that with its Climate Spotlight series. Audubon’s research has documented that if left unchecked climate change will cause the loss of millions of birds. They’re playing a leadership role and helping to frame the issue:

“Climate change is the biggest environmental issue facing Maine, and we’re not backing down. Maine Audubon’s new Climate Spotlight series is aimed at giving consumers and advocates the information they need to take action and understand how climate change impacts Maine. Topics in this free online discussion series include: getting involved in rooftop and community solar; natural climate solutions; transportation; and home energy efficiency.”

Check it out, and see if this is something you could create in your community.

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Fossil Fuels Engrained

Making the change: breaking our fossil fuel habit

Instead of thinking of this a long-term conservation funding stream, we will need to view it as a short-term opportunity to catch up on the conservation work needed as we accelerate efforts to transition off fossil fuels within the next 15-20 years. National Geographic cites a report that suggests this is possible.

An iceburg melts in the Arctic; saltwater seeps into the Florida Everglades, the sun bakes a lakebed in Bolivia, trees die in the mountains of Germany, and bush fires sweep across southwest Australia. Although thousands of miles apart, these events are connected: they have all been intensified by climate change primarily caused by our burning of fossil fuels. Since ancient times, humans have burned wood, peat, and oil for heating, cooking, and light. In the U.S., as elsewhere, coal powered the industrial age until the discovery of vast amounts of underground petroleum in the mid-19th century. American industrial might was built on energy derived from fossil fuels—the decomposed remains of plants and animals found in the Earth’s crust. These fuels contain carbon and hydrogen, and it is carbon that is the problem.

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Creative Commons

Cornell University divesting from fossil fuels to focus on alternative energy, renewables

Is your land trust, or other companies in your community, evaluating their financial investments? Large investment firms and universities are transitioning for both economic and mission purposes.

The investments for this category are expected to decrease to zero over the next five to seven years as the investments mature, according to Bob Howarth, a Cornell professor of ecology and environmental biology who helped lead the divestment efforts and now heads the University Assembly.

Instead of investing in fossil fuels, the university will grow its $6.9 billion endowment portfolio by investing in alternative energy and renewables…

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Chickens And Solar
Jeff Henderson

A new vision for farming: chickens, sheep, and…solar panels

Farm viability is critical. “You’re seeing farmers sell off land and transition it to solar,” says Greg Barron-Gafford, an associate professor at the University of Arizona who studies the impacts of large-scale land-use change. “Our hope is this could allow us to keep more food production in areas that need energy production.”

When Jackie Augustine opens a chicken coop door one brisk spring morning in upstate New York, the hens bolt out like windup toys. Still, as their faint barnyard scent testifies, they aren’t battery-powered but very much alive.

These are “solar chickens.” At this local community egg cooperative, Geneva Peeps, the birds live with solar power all around them. Their hen house is built under photovoltaic panels, and even outside, they’ll spend time underneath them, protected from sun, rain, and hawks…

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