After the incubator: Factors impeding land access along the path from farmworker to proprietor


Adam Calo, Kathryn De Master


Agricultural and Land Based Training Association, ALBA, alternative land access approaches, beginning farmers, California, California central coast, family power dynamics, farmworkers, food insecurity, immmigrant farmworker, incubator farms, incubator programs, labor, land access, organic farming, structural constraints, tenure, wage inequity


Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development

Year Published:


Policy Summary

Beginning farmers face numerous barriers when they try to acquire access to land. This study examines the sociocultural and structural contraints in addition to the financial barriers (often only these are discussed) that beginning farmers in the central coast region of California face in their attempts to gain secure land access.This study specificaly looked at incubator farmer programs and the experience farmers face when they graduate from the program and want to find their own land. Traditionally, land access dicussions have been centered around land price and overall farm profitability. This research highlighted the significant role the following four socio-cultural barriers play in land access: 1) relationships between land owners and farmland seekers, 2) incorporating land investments over long term (ex: soil heatlh), 3) capital investments on rented land, and 4) cultural norms that land owners have a preference to rent land to farmers of a certain class and race. The authors propose that the regional planning conversation should include categorizing land that has the ability to grow quality food as land that protected from nonagricultural uses. Additionally, agricultural policy related to land access should look beyond just land prices and availability, but also to important socio-cultural factors.

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