Boston is a small city with a competitive real estate market and acknowledged problems of income inequality and racism
in both its present and past.1 Twentieth-century planning and policy decisions led to economic disinvestment from many low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, which in turn created problems
of illegal garbage dumping, arson-for-profit, and land abandonment. Now, these neighborhoods and their residents are facing different challenges, including gentrification, displacement, and a lack of access to fresh,
affordable, and healthy food.
From this context, remarkable and groundbreaking initiatives have emerged, including a burgeoning food justice and solidarity economy movement as well as the establishment of community land trusts that enable community control of land. Much of the energy behind these initiatives has come from the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, where movements for
social, economic, and environmental justice have been interrelated.
The newly-formed Urban Farming Institute Community Land Trust (UFI CLT) will become the first organization in Boston whose sole mission is to acquire and steward urban farm sites using the community land trust model.
The first four parcels of land are due to be transferred into the ownership of UFI CLT in 2018. By focusing on urban farm sites, this new community land trust is addressing a crucial missing link in the loop of the sustainable local food economy: land access for farmers. After all, it is hard to grow food in the city without access to soil in the city.
Although much needed, the Urban Farming Institute Community Land Trust’s proposition is a departure from the norm because the community land trust model is in fact most widely known in the context of affordable
housing. What does a community land trust dedicated to facilitating urban farming look like? This report investigates this question from two different angles. First, how do the board, staff, and farmers involved with the creation of the Urban Farming Institute Community Land Trust view its role? How do they envision turning their intentions into the practices and policies that will allow the new organization to carry out its mission?
Second, what can UFI CLT learn from other organizations around the United States engaged in similar work? What elements of their work can help inform Boston’s new CLT?