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About the Farmland Trust Program

For almost four decades food cooperatives in California have had a close connection to the land.

We are proud to announce that the Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation (TPCF) has committed $50,000 in matching funds to create the Co-op Farmland Trust.

The origins of our Co-op Farmland Trust are deeply embedded within the history of the new wave of food cooperatives that began in the 1960. For almost four decades food cooperatives in California have had a close connection to the land. Originating in the 1960 the air was full of activities such as, the back to the land movement, sustainable farm practices and support for organic farming. In addition, food cooperatives were leaders in pursing a different set of environmental values, recycling, pushing for the bottle bill and the organic labeling bill, support for farm workers and creating farmers markets.

In the 1980 the board of TPCF began to look at acquiring farmland in the Sacramento Valley. TPCF wished to have a showplace where food cooperatives could demonstrate how land was transformed from conventional to organic agriculture. We envisioned our local food cooperatives selling the organic produce from our own Twin Pines Farm. At the farm we planned to have an educational center and a small conference center. We anticipated having members of food cooperatives visit Twin Pines Farm to gain a sense of ownership of the land. However, the enormity of the project met our dreams but went beyond TPCF limited resources.

Nonetheless, the relationship of food cooperatives to farmland is a topic always on the table. Therefore, TPCF began again to consider other ways to play a role. In 2003, the TPCF Board convened a meeting with Lee Swenson, President of California Alliance with Family Farms, John McCall, of American Farmland Trust and Richard Rominger, former Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture and a board member of American Farmland Trust.

At the conclusion of that meeting the TPCF Board voted to create the Co-op Farmland Trust. To kick off the program, TPCF committed $50,000 in matching funds to establish the Co-op Farmland Trust. With funds from the Co-op Farmland Trust we will look for opportunities where we can create or preserve land for organic farming. The funds will be lent by the Trust to acquire land. Preference will be given to land that is close to and has the support of an AC member food co-op. The Co-op Farmland Trust is particularly looking for three projects, one in Humboldt County, one in the Sacrament Valley region and one in the Southland. California Statewide Certified Development Corporation has already contributed $5,000 in matching funds for the Southland project.

 From its beginning in 1935, Associated Cooperatives has had a constant relationship with farmland. In California Uncommon Markets author and co-op leader Robert Neptune describes the numerous relationships AC had with farmers from the first day of an organization formed by food cooperatives. For many years, AC was the California member of National Cooperatives, an organization which purchased on behalf of farmer cooperative organizations all across America.

In 1964, Associated Cooperatives formed Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation to pursue nonprofit opportunities on behalf of its member cooperatives. With creation of the Co-op Farmland Trust, we will have come full circle. Since 1935 food cooperatives have had a relation to the land. We have now created a process whereby food cooperatives can help protect the land from which we obtain our food.