Why it Matters 

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, agricultural supply chains and markets were showing signs of weakness. At the same time, the rural areas outside of cities are suffering unprecedented losses of farmland as development expands outward. The Working Farms Fund is a program that stops farmland loss before it is too late and invests in the future of our food system to secure long-term outcomes for healthy food production, climate, economic justice, and conservation.  

“When I was growing up here in Morgan County, Georgia there were 150 some odd dairies. Today there are eight. We’ve lost most of the agriculture that was here. No one has stepped up yet and figured out how do we not be a part of this industrial food system and still farm.”  

Keith Kelly, Multi-generational farmer, owner of Farmview Market in Madison, GA

 

Taking Action for Americas Local Food 800 x 600
© Stacy Funderburke

Our Role 

The Conservation Fund is piloting the Working Farms Fund in metro Atlanta to build a healthier, more equitable and resilient food system. The program permanently protects at-risk farmland across the region, creates opportunities for ambitious, diverse farmers to scale up local food production, and through conservation easements and lease-to-own options, these farmers will come out of the program owning their own farms with developed markets to sell products. 


The Working Farms Fund takes an innovative approach to growing the future of local food by: 

  1. Creating AFFORDABLE AND EQUITABLE FARM OWNERSHIP opportunities for diverse and ambitious next-generation farmers to build prosperous farm businesses and vibrant communities. 
     
  2. Growing a RESILIENT LOCAL FOOD SYSTEM that strengthens connections between farmers, markets, and consumers and increases the supply of locally grown and nutritious foods. 
     
  3. Ensuring PERMANENT PROTECTION OF CRITICAL FARMLAND to grow our local food supply and secure the benefits of clean air and water for local communities.  
     
  4. Accelerating the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices and incentivize farmers to IMPROVE THE ENVIRONMENT AND HUMAN HEALTH

 

Our Pipeline

27 farmers in the program; 6 women farmers; 50% minority farmers; 125 years of collective farming expertise; 6 working farms; 1,238 total acres of farmland; $7,700,000 total acquisition cost of farms.


Here’s How You Can Help 

Working Farms Fund is raising $10 million in revolving capital to acquire critically threatened farmland in the metro Atlanta foodshed and provide ambitious, diverse farmers access to land and a pathway to land ownership. Over 90% of all donations go directly to our projects. If you cannot contribute at this time, please consider simply sharing this information with your network. 

 

“You’re always being challenged by mother nature or markets. There’s always something to learn out here. Growing up in Atlanta, you want to be close to home, you want to feed the people you’ve been around the most. In order to scale up, there’s going to have to be a lot of capital put into the farm. Coming in at 24 years old, most people at this age have not built the capital to have access to land.”  
 
– Demetrius Milling, next-generation farmer, Atlanta, GA 

 

“If you farm irresponsibly, you’re a contributor to climate change. But if you farm in a way that follows simple, smart agricultural practices you’re contributing to a solution. Emory is not only committed to creating a market for farmers in the Working Farms Fund, we are committed to ensuring the future of farming is sustainable and open to a diverse group of people.” 
 
-Ciannat Howett, Associate Vice President, Resilience, Sustainability, and Economic Inclusion, Emory University 



Developed Farmland in Atlanta Metro Area

WorkingFarmsFundProjArea 9.29.20


Learn more




1 https://insight.wfp.org/covid-19-will-almost-double-people-in-acute-hunger-by-end-of-2020-59df0c4a8072 

2 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/13/dining/fruit-vegetables-imports.html 

3 https://www.forbes.com/sites/daphneewingchow/2020/07/30/covid-19-has-given-consumers-five-new-reasons-to-eat-local/#2529640f3ccc

4 https://www.gfb.org/media-and-publications/news.cms/2019/489/ag-census-results-show-size-of-georgia-farms-shifted