Daily Archives: August 19, 2009

Moving from cow-share to farm-share — Glencolton Farms looks to the future

Right to Farm, Responsibility for Farming

Cow-share to farm-share. Lead picture from the new Glencolton Farms prospectus for investors. See link at end of story.

Cow-share to farm-share. Lead picture from the new Glencolton Farms prospectus. See link at end of story.

Back in the 1970s, German banker Ernst Barkhoff outlined a new philosophy of agriculture. His starting point was the thought that each person, just by virtue of being born on the earth, had a right to the use of, and responsibility for the care of, a certain amount of land. Now Barkhoff recognized that, given the culture of our times, we were not all going to be farmers or homesteaders each cultivating our little plot of ground.*

Rather, as modern folk who choose to live in the city, we were going to delegate the care of our portion of land to a farmer who would care for it on our behalf. And because land has become a kind of reservoir for capital in our prevailing economic system, it would be necessary to ransom that land back from those who currently “own” it.

Thus the idea of a farm-share. A number of farms in Germany operate on the model Barkhoff outlined. People put up some thousands of dollars each to ransom a share of land for the use of a farmer who will farm it on their behalf. Of course, Barkhoff’s model goes beyond the issues of land ownership to the involvement of the members in the year to year financial responsibility for the farm operation and to the members then owning each a share of the produce and then deciding how it is to be  distributed or sold and how it will be priced. The members leave to the farmer and his collaborators, responsibility for decisions having to do with the management of the farm.

Now Glencolton Farms is not implementing this model exactly, but I wanted to present it as a background to the direction in which Glencolton Farms is moving with their new farm share structure. Continue reading

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