The LND Initiative
A radical solution to land security for BIPOC farmers
Accessing land is the most significant challenge farmers face, and it is consistently more challenging for BIPOC farmers.
BIPOC farmers are more likely to operate on a small scale and grow diversified, ready-to-eat crops. These production areas are less likely to be funded and supported by federal programs, and farmers of color are only half as likely to be approved for farm loans as white farmers.
Land access is not the same as land security.
Farmers need infrastructure to operate efficiently, like housing, wells, irrigation, fencing, processing space, and cold storage. Many leases don't allow for these developments; if they do, the lease term may be too short or terms too casual to merit the investment. With land ownership far out of reach due to high prices and slim margins, small farmers often opt for inefficient operations on affordable leased land. This can look like commuting to land multiple times a day, hauling water to rotationally grazed livestock, or transporting harvested veggies off-site to wash, pack, and store. These extra steps add up to more hours in the day, higher expenses, and sustained stress, and too often lead to farmer burnout. Even with flexible, friendly landlords, long terms, and legally binding contracts, a landowner may still remove access unexpectedly, with little recourse for the farmer. We've seen this scenario play out first hand at crippling expense for the farmers, and are convinced there is no rock solid land security without land ownership.
All our work to provide capital access and business support falls flat if farmers don't know where they'll be farming next season.
At Foodshed Capital, making capital more accessible, more affordable, and more flexible is at the heart of what we do. But without land security, it's impossible for farmers to make strategic choices like how many seeds to purchase or how many wholesale accounts to pursue, let alone predict potential revenue for a full growing season. The issue of land security is a constant in our work, and time and again, we see it disproportionately affecting farmers of color.
Farmers need infrastructure
to operate efficiently. They need autonomy to make strategic business choices. And they need equity so their investments of time and capital won't be lost when a lease is up. Land ownership is the only thing that provides that genuine security.
The LND Initiative
Redistribute wealth, and make it scalable.
The LND Initiative is a comprehensive partnership between technical assistance providers, BIPOC advisors, land acquisition experts, and Foodshed Capital that supports regenerative BIPOC farmers in becoming landowners, and positions them for long-term business success.
It offers reparations-minded funders with a direct way to address BIPOC land security, while thinking bigger than one-off land donations. The LND Initiative can be scaled through partnerships around the country and deployed anywhere a BIPOC farmer needs land.
The LND Fund
One part of a larger whole.
The LND Fund is a pool of philanthropic capital managed by Foodshed Capital and is just one piece of the broader Initiative. We deploy funding directly toward the purchase of land for BIPOC farmers through our novel Loan-Not-Debt (LND) financing.
By contrast to investment models which rely on return of- and return on capital, The LND Fund is a simple pass-through that allows funders to support for-profit farmers without triggering tax events for giver or receiver.
The Nuts + Bolts
Trained BIPOC farmers are recommended to the program by our technical assistance partners.
BIPOC Advisory Council reviews candidates' expansion plans and overall business readiness, and identifies any resource or assistance needs.
Land matching partners assist BIPOC farmers in identifying suitable land and initiating agricultural easements where possible to increase affordability and guarantee land protection.
Philanthropic supporters make a donation to Foodshed Capital, a 501(c)(3).
We pool capital in The LND Fund and use it to finance land purchases for farmers with a 30-year, open-ended, renewable balloon "loan" that is not debt.
BIPOC farmer landowners make no payments and pay no interest.
The "loan" only becomes due if property is sold. If sold at an appreciated value at the end of the term, owners keep the difference, allowing them to build equity.
LND Initiative partners remain available to BIPOC farmer landowners for the long haul to provide support wherever needed.